Open Source Textbooks

This idea was brought to me from a faculty member at the college I work at. She teaches classes in the sciences, several which are general education credits. As she was reviewing textbooks for the next academic year, she thought the cost of these books which the students will only use for 16 weeks and sell back for 1/4 of the cost was outrageous. The content for most of these courses does not change, yet the book is updated to a new version yearly, as well as the cost of the book. So she thought to herself she had to options:

  1. Create her own content pages in the learning management system
  2. Use open source textbooks licensed for education reuse under Creative Commons.

She started with the first idea, realized quickly that a project like this could take over a year to develop. While she was developing the materials she stumbled on websites offering open source textbooks and resources. She started to review them and found herself joining these communities and finding the content she needed was already created.

She is now searching for the content for her Introduction to Chemistry course on several different open source sites, and what she can’t find she is building on her own and then contributing back to these communities. Below are links to two of the resources/communities she has been using to develop her course.

Since learning management system abilities have grown from being a document library to a place where instructional content can be delivered with ease, I see site like these becoming more and more popular. What is your view on these open source educational resources and communities? Would you use them as an instructional designer or teacher in place of a paper textbook, or possibly as additional supplementary resources?

Open Educational Resources
We are a dynamic digital content hub offering a suite of OER supports. From roadmaps to training to tools, we’ll get the right OER to your students.
College Open Textbooks
The College Open Textbooks Collaborative, a collection of twenty-nine educational non-profit and for-profit organizations, affiliated with more than 200 colleges, is focused on driving awareness and adoptions of open textbooks to more than 2000 community and other two-year colleges.
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2 thoughts on “Open Source Textbooks”

  1. I love the idea of this. Being a student who would spend roughly $400-$500 a semester on textbooks alone I would much rather see schools turn to using more open source materials. I feel like almost anything can be found online and all the information in your $150 textbook can be found for free using a Google search. I”ve also had a few professors who put together their own materials which were able to be bought in the book store for a fraction of what a normal textbook would be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did not realize that this was an option for an open resource textbook. I have had classes where the teacher has created their own version of a textbook by using excerpts to cut the cost for their students. I figured that this was probably a time consuming option, which is why some professors have us purchase the book and we only use parts of the chapters. I think that open resources to cut costs, is a really interesting idea. I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where you didn’t drop hundreds of dollars towards books that you may not even use. I think it is great that your friend is taking from the site AND attributing to the site. It takes a great person to not only use the materials to help her students but to help other students, as well.

    If I were to be a professor, I believe that I would look for an open resource as an option for the textbook, depending the resource would allow. I am all about trying to save money/save other people money.

    I thought that this was a great post. I thank you for opening my eyes to a resource that I was unaware of before this.

    Liked by 1 person

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