Perspective often depends upon where one stands. One of the best things about an open textbook is that instructors can easily "sprinkle in" additional information. For example, a historian in North Carolina may wish to see more examples about the New South in her textbook. Another may wish to see greater emphasis on labor history beyond strikes or Native American history beyond removal.
The "bleeding edge" of open not only allows instructors the freedom to create better books, it permits them to involve students in the process. David Trowbridge will share how students in Appalachia converted a standard U.S. history textbook into a living document that uses examples from their own region alongside the more familiar narratives from Seneca Falls to Selma and Stonewall. Students worked collectively, researching the history of women's suffrage, civil rights, and a dozen other topics. They debated which examples to include, as well as what to leave out. What better way to demonstrate that all history is local and scholars make decisions about the past?
In some ways, teaching is like jazz composition. We all have a basic melody to follow. After that, it?s all about adjustment and improvisation and we make changes each semester based on what worked. "Open" allows instructors to make those same adjustments to their books and other learning materials. Perhaps equally important, it allows students to become active agents in their own education.