PreTeXt and ORCCA

Open Software for OER Production and One Example

November 15, 2019

Alex Jordan and Cara Lee


These slides are licensed with a Creative Commons CC0 “no rights reserved” license.

All images (except the CC0 image and the logos for WeBWorK, PreTeXt, and ORCCA) are also licensed CC0.


Introduce ORCCA

An OER package of basic algebra materials.

Introduce PreTeXt

Software you can use to make textbooks.


View these slides:
(Or use the AMATYC app.)

ORCCA is an OER package

  1. HTML: interactive, accessible, portable
  2. Book: PDF or printed
  3. online homework for “free”
  4. (some) ancillary materials
    (more coming next edition)
  5. Braille and EPUB coming
    (hopefully next edition)

ORCCA HTML eBook Scavenger Hunt

Visit HTML Version:
Work in teams of 2–3 people to find an example of each:
  • Lesson Objectives
  • Embedded Videos
  • SVG images
  • Reading Questions
  • Interactive Checkpoint Example
  • Cross-Reference Knowl
    (“click to reveal”)
  • Solution Knowl
  • GeoGebra graphing calculator
  • Embedded GeoGebra applet
    (Hint: section 1.1 or 1.3)
  • Exercises
  • Index
  • Activate highlighting (challenge!)

HTML eBook

Lesson Objectives

Embedded Videos

Interactive Checkpoint Examples

Reading Questions




Reveal Something


Image Files in Multiple Formats

GeoGebra graphing calculator

Embedded Geogebra


Math Exploration

PDF and print


PDF flavors

Black & White print, on Amazon

Printing logistics are a challenge.

Black & White PDF files

Part I, Part II, Part III, All of it.

Screen PDF

For reading offline, onscreen.


WeBWorK Integraion with ORCCA

ORCCA has over 6000 exercises. Most start life as a WeBWorK problem file.

problem file \(\to\) one random version \(\to\) official book version

problem files \(\to\) WeBWorK problem sets that refer back to the book

Later we invite you to explore WeBWorK problems.

More About WeBWorK

Using WeBWorK requires access to a WeBWorK server.

  • Set up your own.
  • Find a host server.
  • Use MAA server, with a fee.
  • Use Edfinity, with a fee.

ORCCA WeBWorK files available through ORCCA home site (


  • Access from day 1 (or earlier)
  • Access to past/future content
  • Tailored to course objectives
  • Videos and missed class
  • Paper homework, WeBWorK, or both
  • Cost
  • Culturally responsive
  • In the classroom, use the HTML version
  • Videos and reading questions for online/hybrid/flipped

Curriculum Redesign

\begin{equation*} \begin{array}{c}\text{ORCCA}\\\text{1st edition}\end{array} \implies \begin{array}{c}\text{freedom to redesign}\\\text{curriculum}\end{array} \implies \begin{array}{c}\text{ORCCA}\\\text{2nd edition}\end{array} \end{equation*}

Needed: a curriculum that better fit student needs.

  • Added topics
  • Cut topics
  • Resequenced

Reinventing curriculum committee and book adoption processes is a challenge!


An OER needs an open license…but which one?

  • Creative Commons BY? (our ultimate choice)
  • Creative Commons BY-SA?
  • Creative Commons BY-SA-NC?
  • Creative Commons Something Else?
  • GNU Free Documentation License?
  • Something Else?
Are we licensing the text/images/etc., or the source files and their coding?

Student Data

There are challenges to gathering data scientifically. The data we have suggests no change (up or down) in success rates, possibly a reduction in withdrawal rates.

Cost Savings

OER use at PCC is tracked and cost savings are estimated:

We estimate ORCCA currently saves PCC students about $500,000 each year.


Google lets us understand usage.

More than geography. Phones/tablets/laptops/desktops? Chrome/Firefox/Safari/Edge? Actually reading their textbooks?

Coming in a Future Edition

  • Worksheets
  • Exams/Quizzes
  • Slideshows
  • Braille
  • EPUB


Write Once, Read Anywhwere

Write structure, not styling:

                      <title>Fundamental Theorem of Calculus</title>
                          This is a famous theorem:
                          <m>\frac{d}{dx} \int_a^x f(t)\, dt = f(x)</m>

Theorem: Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.

This is a famous theorem: \(\frac{d}{dx} \int_a^x f(t)\, dt = f(x)\)

Multiple Output Forms


  • HTML (accessible, professional styling, generally works well on a small screen)
  • PDF (professional styling)
  • Jupyter Notebook

Under Development

  • EPUB
  • Braille
  • Word worksheets
  • Slideshows

Collaboration Tools


The Problems

  • Up to eight people working simultaneously on the same project.
  • Curriculum is always evolving. How to write a book and stay ahead of that?
  • How/where to keep draft material that may or may not be ultimately used?
  • How do we make it easy for other institutions to adapt to their needs?


One Solution

git is free version control software.

  • Work on same file(s) without checking in with each other.
  • Rewind a project to an earlier state.
  • Create a “branch” for experimentation.

Google Groups

  • Internal authors' discussion of technology, pedagogy, style, etc.

  • Invite discussion and review from colleagues.

Google Forms

Organized submission of issues: typos, errors, more substantial suggestions for improvement…


Thanks for learning about our book, ORCCA, and the software used to make it, PreTeXt!

May we answer any questions?