Introduction to Pressbooks

Pressbooks is an open source, web-based authoring platform. And when you unpack the name a bit you start to understand what is – the “Press” part being that it is built on the WordPress web content creation platform, and the “books” portion in relation to that it was originally developed, and largely is used for, publishing open online books. And although the platform divides the organizational structure of the resource into Parts and Chapters – Pressbooks can be used for so much more. For the purposes of this module, we will focus on open textbook publishing, but keep in mind that some wonderful examples of open online learning materials developed via Pressbooks tap into its flexible and easy-to-use interface.

You don’t need to know anything about book design or ebook development: Pressbooks has been built to handle all the details for you, and lets you focus on the creation! Pressbooks is supported by eCampusOntario, who has made it freely available for all Ontario post-secondary educators, learners, and staff to create and adapt open textbooks. Let’s look at some of the key features of Pressbooks:

  1. Write once, publish many: Pressbooks makes it easy to export well-formatted publications in multiple outputs (PDF, EPUB, and more)
  2. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Editor for familiar creation: Creating right in Pressbooks is similar to creating a Word document with a bit more fun added into the mix
  3. Easily clone other openly licensed content created in Pressbooks to adapt for any teaching and learning context
  4. Accessible: Web-based resources built in Pressbooks are by default designed to be accessible and compatible with screen readers and other assistive technologies. Keep in mind there are other key elements you need to consider when creating to make your resource more accessible and inclusive.
  5. Easily add users with various roles and permissions to enable collaboration on a resource
  6. Familiarity of the traditional textbook, but with the ability to move the medium forward and become more of a learning environment

Let’s take a look at two recent publications that were recognized as favourites by the Pressbooks community. Navigate each for a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the user experience when accessing a published webbook:

  • Liberated Learners: How to Learn with Style – This resource was created via a collaboration of several institutions and offers readers 4 modules on the various dimensions of digital learning. Notice the design aesthetic, integration of H5P interactions, various use of multimedia and distinct voices of the authors.
  • Pulling Together: Indigenization Guides – A series of guidebooks aimed at educating educators, researchers, and staff across post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. An important and highly collaborative project supporting systemic change through Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation.

Now that you know a little more about Pressbooks and have seen it in action, let’s focus on using it. This module will guide you through a series of steps and options and have you creating your first (simple!) book.

silhouette icon of a dark blue pencil within a golden outline of a square that has rounded corners Learning Outcomes

  1. Navigate the Pressbooks platform to create, export and publish a simple digital book.

  2. Add multimedia elements, including videos, images, hyperlinks, and H5P interactive activities using Pressbooks to enhance learning.

  3. Collaborate within Pressbooks throughout the creation process.


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