Solution is Open Textbooks
Jane Park, August 26th, 2008
In January, the Student PIRGs launched the Make Textbooks Affordable campaign “to encourage faculty to adopt open educational resources in their classrooms” in the form of open textbooks and other classroom materials. Read ccLearn’s post on it from January.
Recently, the Student PIRGs released their findings after examining digital textbooks and surveying 500 students in the following report: “Course Correction: How Digital Textbooks are Off Track and How to Set Them Straight“. Nicole Allen, the campaign’s director, writes:
“I think this report helps draw a brighter line between the good and bad of digital textbooks. I think open textbooks too often get lumped into the overarching category of digital books, which does not do them justice as a solution. We hope it will help refocus all of the momentum for digital textbooks toward the right kind of digital textbooks – open.”
The report highlights the defects of e-books offered currently by commercial publishers. (See the LA Times and The Wired Campus articles.) In addition to being expensive, they are accessible by students for only a limited time and cost a great deal for those who would like to print them. Open textbooks, on the other hand, are free and downloadable, giving students access to their own copy forever in addition to the abilities to reuse, remix or repurpose them under the terms of an open license.