The following words are taken from students’ reflections on this project, with minimal editing for fluency:
Inaya: As all college students quickly learn, textbooks are an expensive addition to an already high tuition.
Bianca: I am always faced with having to buy textbooks that I usually don’t even end up using.
Jess: To me, textbooks have always been books required by every class, that can range up to $250. I have known a lot of people who didn’t even bother to buy it because having that resource for the classes wasn’t worth the price.
Lauren: At this point, I have resorted to only renting textbooks, even though most of the time this means that the books are not in the greatest quality.
Phuc: To an extent, writers and publishers need to be compensated for their effort and research but a line needs to be drawn on how pricey a textbook can be.
On being part of the first edition:
Inaya: Being part of this project helps to spread the concept of OER [Open Educational Resources] in higher education.
Bianca: This was quite exciting. Since I am a student, I know what is and isn’t helpful in a textbook.
Phuc: From my perspective the project [of writing a chapter for the first edition] is simply an assignment that needs to be completed, except this assignment is actually fun and entertaining to do.
Nyjah: I feel this online book is a great idea … “Chinese Magical Creatures” is such an odd class, there is not real material for it. Having people in the class help to put it together makes it even better, because as students we know what we like and dislike in textbooks, and we know what we feel was necessary and important to include.
Lauren: In all of my other classes, I have always felt like I gained a lot of knowledge, and then had nowhere to put it all.
Jess: Being part of the project instilled me with a sense of responsibility. I needed to be clear and accurate.
On hopes and dreams for the future of this book:
Inaya: I hope it turns out successful so I can fondly look back on it.
Nyjah: I want people to add onto our sections and make them even better and more interesting. I want people to be able to use this textbook as another source for research.
Jess: People should use this textbook to develop their own cool research ideas based on [topics from the book].
Bianca: I hope that anyone who reads our textbook finds it helpful, fun and educational, and that it makes them want to explore more about Chinese culture.
Lauren: People should use this to expand on these various topics. This book can also be used by any individual. Not every textbook has to be used just for academic purposes, but also for genuine interest and to expand their own knowledge horizon.
Phuc: I hope people had fun reading what I made, because I tried to make this textbook as light to read with as many jokes as possible.
On writing for a wider audience, when you’re not an expert:
Nyjah: We talked about this in class, that not everything is going to be perfect, and that’s ok. But it’s hard to think like that, when it’s for a book that is open to anyone.
Inaya: Readers should know before diving into this text that it was written by people who have no initial background knowledge on [these topics].
Phuc: Whether or not my research and contribution are up to par is what I’m worried about.
Jess: Readers should keep in mind that the authors of this book are students. This gives the book a different feel. Instead of beign some high-and-mighty, all-knowing textbook, this is a book from peers. This book is not meant to be daunting, it is meant to be inviting and interesting.
During an editorial meeting with the students, and in their reflections, all stressed the importance for the reader to realize that the authors are students, not experts. You will find in this textbook what the students discovered, and they all realize that there is a whole lot more out there than they were able to work into their research projects.