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Case Study 2.1: Milne Open Textbooks

Allison Brown, Digital Publishing Services Manager, pointed how a user-centered thought process informs her work with SUNY Geneseo. For instance, she commented on the importance of providing open textbooks in multiple file formats—HTML, PDF, EPUB, and original source files if necessary. By providing textbooks in different file formats, SUNY Geneseo offers students flexible options for the devices they can use to interact with the resource—and they increase the adaptability of their OER.


Brown pointed out another example that came through feedback from students. Over time she learned that a significant number of students preferred to read open texts in print. An advantage of OER is that open licenses permit use in print, thus helping students who may have issues with migraines, eye strain, reading comprehension, and more when using screens. However, as project manager, Brown had to make conscious choices about structuring books to be equally functional in print.


One example comes from the Introduction to the Modeling and Analysis of Complex Systems. The author of the text initially designed pages with color-coded tabs to identify sections. However, after discussing with Brown, he moved the tabs so that sections were identified by their location—not their color alone. This shift will make the book more usable for people who have difficulty distinguishing particular colors. In addition, the repositioning will make the textbook easier to understand and navigate for people using it in black-and-white print.


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Case Study 2.1: Milne Open Textbooks by Talea Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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