The Digitally Smart Open Source Textbook

Katherine Ramsland, DeSales University and Chris Hewatt, DeSales University


We created a fully online master course for PS-109 that can be handed off to other instructors using an open source textbook, "Psychology," which is designed to meet scope and sequence requirements for a single-semester introduction to an introductory psychology course. This process allows faculty to work with instructional designers on developing courses from a strong foundation without producing canned experiences for students.

The book offers a comprehensive treatment of core concepts, grounded in classic studies as well as current and emerging research. The text also includes coverage of the DSM-5 in examinations of psychological disorders.

"Psychology" incorporates discussions that reflect the diversity within the discipline, as well as the diversity of cultures and communities across the globe. All OpenStax textbooks undergo a rigorous review process.

Since the book is web-based, they can make periodic updates. This free book comes in interactive digital form suitable for smart tablets, or can be purchased inexpensively in hardcover form. It comes with PowerPoint slides, a test bank, the ability to insert material into the text, a regular errata notification, and student resources.

We added videos, discussion boards and exercises, but instructors have the option of adopting licenses for learning tools that coordinate well with the text for which students pay a modest fee (LRNR, for example, is $35.) The test bank can be stored inside these tools so instructors can easily monitor student involvement.



OpenStax is a nonprofit ed-tech initiative based at Rice University. Since 2012, OpenStax has created peer-reviewed, openly licensed textbooks, which are available in free digital formats and for a low cost in print. Most books are also available in Kindle versions on and in the iBooks Store.

Key Terms/Tags:

Interactive textbooks, digital textbooks, open-license textbooks

Directions for OpenStax:

  1. Visit the OpenStax website and create an account. Note that your college e-mail address must be used to verify you are faculty. Your account will undergo review by OpenStax over 3-4 business days to verify your faculty status.
  2. Select the course topics you typically teach. Select the textbooks in which you are interested.
  3. You can review the Table of Contents or download a free sample of several resources. Once verified as faculty, you will receive access to the instructor-only resources.