Unboxing the Textbook for an Open World OEW 2020

5 March 2020, 13:00 CET

Open Education Week webinar

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Presentation & panel discussion


The textbook is an enduring staple of higher education, occupying a key role in formal educational settings. Practices may vary greatly in educational settings as to how the costs of textbooks are borne by students. Moreover, the role and nature of the textbook are changing rapidly in a digital world. Large, often expensive, paper books exist alongside digital versions which may include rich media and interactivity. The interactive elements of digital textbooks may also comprise assessments that can be summative or formative. Publishers may charge rental subscriptions for books which may be passed directly onto students increasing the costs of their education. Moreover, these rentals are temporary. Students do not get to “Retain” access to the learning resource – the right to retain being one of the key five Rs of Open (Wiley, 2014). How can we help unpack these issues and explore alternatives such as more open approaches? To help “unbox” the book, this panel seeks to explore students’ use (and non-use) of textbooks for learning in higher education; what alternatives might exist; and to try and envisage textbooks and educational resources in a more open future.


Wiley, D. (2014). The access compromise and the 5th R. Iterating toward openness. Retrieved 10 December 2019, from  https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/3221

Moderator: Eamon Costello, DCU


Eamon Costello
Head of Open Education, National Institute for Digital Learning, Dublin City University



Dr Costello is currently acting head of the Open Education Unit in the National Institute for Digital Learning in Dublin City University, Ireland. He has many years of experience in online and open distance learning as both a teacher and researcher. He has conducted research and published in the area of open education in many of its guises including on open digital textbooks.

Zoe Wake Hyde
Assistant director and Product Manager at the Rebus Foundation



Zoe is Assistant director and Product Manager at the Rebus Foundation @rebusfdn. She is a graduate of the Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University. She has previously worked in media communications and academia in a range of roles. Her interests lie in the future of academic publishing, innovative business models and technologies, and Open publishing practices.

Aine Lynch
Assistant Librarian, Mary Immaculate College, Ireland


Áine Lynch is an Assistant Librarian at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. She recently completed a Master of Arts in eLearning Design and Development at Cork Institute of Technology. Her studies have given her a strong interest in open textbooks in an Irish context and in a library context. Twitter: @ainenilionsigh

Tom Farrelly
Faculty member, Social Sciences, Institute of Technology, Tralee, Ireland


James Brunton
Programme Chair, Psychology, Dublin City University, Ireland


Dr Brunton is the Chair of the DCU Connected Psychology Major programme, the first open education, online, undergraduate psychology programme accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland. He is an experienced online and distance learning academic and researcher with research interests including the psychology of identity formation, socialisation/orientation processes for ‘off-campus’ higher education students, online learning design, open pedagogy, and digital assessment.

Samantha Trevaskis



Undergraduate student in Dublin City University studying a BA in Psychology online on Ireland’s first online psychology programme that has been accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland. Sam has been studying online for several years and has a student’s insight into issues of textbook and learning materials accessibility and access.