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?



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


  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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