Richard White (left), Bernard Madill and Dr Erika Pearson
continue work at the University of Otago yesterday on a
project to write an electronic textbook. Photo by Craig
Academics on both sides of the Tasman, led by University
of Otago senior lecturer Dr Erika Pearson, have joined forces
in an innovative project to create an electronic textbook in a
The internet-linked project aims to break down barriers to
A related aim is to cut out the ''cripplingly high'' cost of
textbooks that do not meet the local needs of New Zealand and
Australian tertiary students.
The project, to produce an open access introductory text book
for media and communications students, has also won a $5000
grant from the US-based international Creative Commons
organisation, after gaining backing from Creative Commons
Aotearoa New Zealand.
Much of the textbook was produced over the weekend during a
series of intense 90-minute ''sprint'' writing sessions,
followed by collaborative sessions, undertaken via internet,
involving contributors at the University of South Australia,
in Adelaide, as well as at Otago, Canterbury and Massey
universities, and in Auckland.
The project is an experiment in the production of open
educational resources in New Zealand, and participants are
also preparing another work, a ''cookbook'' designed to help
others with methods to tackle more free-access textbook
projects in future.
Dunedin researchers were buoyed yesterday by receiving more
than 100 comments on Twitter about the project from
interested people, many of them overseas.
Some of the interest was sparked when Tim O'Reilly, a
California-based backer of the free software and open source
movements, retweeted to many of his supporters a message from
a New Zealand internet commentator about the project.
Dr Pearson, the project's academic director, said last night
she was ''very, very tired'' but ''really excited'' at the
''amazing progress'' achieved.