Posted in Books

Open Source Textbooks

If you’ve ever watched the old Science Fiction show, “Twilight Zone”, then you’ve probably heard the host, Rod Serling, say the line, “I offer the following for your consideration…” And, then you were presented with an odd story, with a moral, and set in the past, present or future, Twilight Zone.

I see that we are about to ask for a tuition increase, passing an additional cost on to our students for their education.

I know that often we are looking at ways to reduce textbook costs, and so, “I offer the following for your consideration.” One way of reducing textbook costs might be by using “open source textbooks,” for courses. I’m not sure of what rules, or committees govern selection of textbooks, but if the quality of OSTs (Open Source Textbooks) were comparable to those available from book publishers, then students could use these free or “very low cost” texts at considerable savings.

Using OSTs to Reduce COSTS

Perhaps OSTs wouldn’t be the right choice for some courses, but they might be a reasonable alternative for survey or intro courses.

Why would someone spend the time and energy to produce a free or low-cost textbook? Well, an institution might provide a small stipend for developers. If approved, those that “publish for tenure” might be able to apply book chapters as published works. Perhaps a collaborative effort would be rewarding, working with a fellow instructor, someone at another institution, etc.

I’m a technician, so I’m not looking at the pedagogy or process, or even the quality of content. However, here is an example of an Open Source Textbook, and with permission, I was able to port it into WordPress, where I am more comfortable. Here is the original online textbook site for “Intro to Sociology” by Rod Hammond and Paul Cheney and here is the “not yet completed” WordPress version. I think either version could be used successfully.

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