University of Otago academic Dr Erika Pearson is pictured
with a downloaded version of a new online textbook. Photo
by Gregor Richardson.
An innovative electronic textbook project, led by
University of Otago academic Dr Erika Pearson, has sparked
interest from people in a dozen countries.
''It's wonderful. It's great to see that people are using the
project right off the bat,'' Dr Pearson said this week.
''I'm feeling incredibly relieved and happy with not only the
process [of writing the book], but also the product,'' she
Much of the work to create the 119-page Media Studies
101 textbook was done during intense bouts of
collaborative writing over a single weekend, in November last
Academics on both sides of the Tasman joined forces to create
the textbook, which was designed to be used by students in
Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
The internet-linked project aimed to break down barriers to
Such barriers included the ''cripplingly high'' cost of some
textbooks that did not meet the local needs of New Zealand
and Australian tertiary students, organisers said.
Richard White, copyright officer at Otago University,
believed this swiftly-produced electronic textbook was the
''first initiative of its kind'' in New Zealand and - in its
media studies discipline - perhaps also a world first. This
was ''a real 21st-century textbook'' and Dr Pearson's team
had ''really achieved something wonderful here'', he said.
Dr Pearson, who is a senior lecturer in the Otago University
media, film and communication department, was delighted by
the ''very positive'' interest in the project, from several
New Zealand high schools, and from a host of countries,
including Canada, Poland and Papua New Guinea.
The Creative Commons media studies textbook was supported by
a $5000 grant from the International Creative Commons
This US-headquartered, non-profit body aims to expand the
number of creative works available for others to build upon
legally and share.
Dr Pearson said the textbook had been released via the
internet last week by the ''Media Text Hack Group'' that had
The book's Creative Commons licensing arrangement meant
educators and students could adapt and rewrite it using their
own examples and explanations, without having to ask our