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Open Source Textbook in Education
by Jeremiah Stanley - Thursday, July 17, 2014, 1:18 PM
 

Activities to Engage Online Learners

As students start college, most are shocked by the cost of textbooks. A textbook may cost $150 or more, and that’s just for one class. Some teachers and colleges are addressing this issue by creating and sharing open source textbooks. Open source textbooks is a textbook that is made available to teachers, student, or the community and is free to use. By using open source textbooks, the cost for textbooks can be reduced to the charges for printing the pages required/desired for the students, or if students use electronic copies or open source textbooks, they won’t incur any costs.

Please read the following articles and answer the three discussion questions for this activity: 

  • David Thornburg on Open-Source Textbooks – David Thornburg, January 4, 2011

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/david-thornburg-open-source-textbooks\

 

  •  Open-Source Textbooks a Mixed Bag in California – Brendan Borrell, August 14, 2009

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/open-source-textbooks-mixed-bag-california/

 

  • New Strategy Would Drop College Textbook Costs to Zero – Carrie Wells, March 22, 2014

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2014-03-22/news/bs-md-college-open-source-textbooks-20140322_1_textbooks-university-system-pilot-program

 

Sites to review:

 

Discussion questions for week 3:

  • Do open source textbooks have a place in higher education?
  • What are three benefits and three negative aspects of using open source textbooks?
  • Would you consider using open source textbooks in your classroom? Why or why not?
 
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Re: Open Source Textbook in Education
by Patricia Richards - Friday, July 18, 2014, 9:01 AM
 

Discussion questions for week 3:

  • Do open source textbooks have a place in higher education?

When I was in college; I survived off of $25 dollars a week and a meal card.  It was a financial struggle and the cost of my textbooks were prohibitive.  I would sometimes check out the books from the library but often times they were not available.  My parents would usually fit the bill for my books but it was a financial burden for them, especially since they had three children in college at the same time.  Some classmates did without the books and worked it out someway.  Because the cost of traditional textbooks are high, I do feel that open source textbooks do have a place in higher education.

  • What are three benefits and three negative aspects of using open source textbooks?

The three benefits of the open source textbooks are they are convenient, cost very little to nothing and can be continually updated.

The three negative aspects of the open source textbooks are that they may not be your text book of choice, they rely on unreliable technology and not everyone may have the computer resources to access them.  Also, I don't like reading textbooks from a computer screen; it just bothers my eyes.

  • Would you consider using open source textbooks in your classroom? Why or why not?

It would depend on the quality of the open source textbook.   I had an experience with my  3rd grade daughter and her online math textbook.  It was a pain in the neck for me.  When we did the homework lesson on measurments the sizes of the objects were all warped on the computer screen.  We had the ruler up to the screen and the scale was wrong.  When I went to print the lesson out is was not to scale and the pages were cut off.  This particular text irritated me.  It could have been better.  So, I realize not all open source textbooks would have this problem so it would just depend on the quality of the individual textbook.  Another considerationwould be if my students did not have internet access or computer access at home; this would not be a viable option for this class.

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Re: Open Source Textbook in Education
by Jeremiah Stanley - Friday, July 18, 2014, 6:19 PM
 

Hi Patricia,

Thank you for the feedback and you make some really valid point, I can remember starting my associates degree and all my first semester books were well over $400. I was lucky that my teachers sent out e-mails informing us to check out amazon and other source for are textbooks. Instead of spending the $400 my cost was $75 for all my textbook and I will never forget that sticker shock to begin with.

I think when it comes to open source textbook you are correct with your statement about unreliable technology to access the textbooks, and the textbook might not be your first choice are all thing you have to consider before you use an open source textbook. The nice thing about open source textbooks is the fact that you can change the textbooks around add or takeaway content to truly tailor it to your student needs, and if you do not want to you an electronic copy you can print a textbook for a small fee. I took a look at Lulu.com for the cost of printing a textbook  for a US Letter 8.5X11 400 pages is $13.40 that is much more affordable than a $150 for a textbook.

Jeremiah Stanley

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Re: Open Source Textbook in Education
by Kristen McGowan - Friday, July 18, 2014, 11:24 PM
 

Do open source textbooks have a place in higher education?

Yes, I strongly believe that the use of open source textbooks in higher education can prove to be a substantial cost-savings without sacrificing educational value.  The cost of tuition for schools has increased exponentially over the years and textbooks can easily cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.  There are many college students who rely on sharing texts with classmates or purchasing outdated text versions just to save money.  

What are three benefits and three negative aspects of using open source textbooks?

Pros:

1. Cost:  Cheaper than textbooks

2. Interactive: Increased engagement using tools - highlight, bold, underline, etc.

3. Up-to-date Information: Textbooks quickly outdate

Cons:


1. Accessibility: Technology breaks, limited access, and wifi connections required

2. Quality:  Is there a standard for content/information sources

3.  Reliability:  Free resources are not generating as much revenue so will there be continued motivation by publishers to keep content fresh?

Would you consider using open source textbooks in your classroom? Why or why not?

There is not a dedicated textbook for PE courses in my district at this time.  With that said, I would be incredibly pleased to have accessibility to personal mobile devices so that students could regularly refer to a resource to look up information.  I would prefer to review resources in advance and make suggestions as to which open source textbooks that they refer to.    

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Re: Open Source Textbook in Education
by Jeremiah Stanley - Saturday, July 19, 2014, 1:13 AM
 

Hi Kristen,

You make a lot of valid point in your responses to using open source textbooks in education.

  • When it comes to accessibility you can tailor how you present of the information to your students. As long as the textbook is released under the creative commons license you can mix and match from as many textbooks you want as long as you follow the quid line for the use of the work.
  • There is no set standard for quality control in open source textbooks but most of the textbooks are pear reviewed for accuracy. I think as open source textbook become more popular there will be standardization in how the textbook are put together.
  • There is such a growing need for reliable affordable textbooks that the open source textbook movement will be here for a while.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to the post.

Jeremiah Stanley

DC
Re: Open Source Textbook in Education
by David Cook - Saturday, July 19, 2014, 6:19 PM
 

The open-source textbook debate reminds me a bit of pirating music and movies - the business side of me thinks that there are going to be unintended consequences of open-sourcing because the academic system is certainly still centered around textbooks as the primary source of information for many brick and morter institutions.

Having said that, it wasn't all that long ago that Microsoft was sued for the radical concept of making a web browser (internet explorer) free.

Do open source textbooks have a place in higher education?

Yes.  I feel that they have value in some of the areas where concepts don't change as much or as often.  If you told me that no publisher would make another dime off selling an Algebra textbook, I wouldn't shed a tear.  But I'm not sure this works in a lot of science or english texts.  

What are three benefits and three negative aspects of using open source textbooks?

Positive

 

  1. Lower cost to user (student)
  2. Availability to more users. 
  3. Decreased barriers to entry for new writers, publishers, etc. 

Negative

  1. Open-sources aren't always as credible, reliable, or trustworthy in the long-run. 
  2. Requires a shift in the structure of the educational system. 
  3. Open source implies online, which internet access for more people more often. 

Would you consider using open source textbooks in your classroom? Why or why not?

Yes, in some ways I already do everytime I use an article or website that costs nothing.  

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