News

Saylor Foundation expands $20,000 Open Textbook Challenge

Anna Daniel, May 10th, 2012

The Saylor Foundation provides global grants of US $20,000 to college textbook authors seeking to openly license their educational textbooks for use in free Saylor college-level courses. Authors maintain their copyright and license textbooks to the world via Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) to enable maximum reuse, remix, and redistribution. To learn more and apply, visit Saylor’s Open Textbook Challenge page for more details.

In addition to providing grants for existing textbooks, the Saylor Foundation has announced a new option to award authors seeking to create open textbooks that will be CC BY licensed. Academics who are interested in creating a textbook can submit a brief statement about the proposed text and the relevant eligible Saylor course, and if successful they will receive a Request for Proposal from the Saylor Foundation (more details at the Open Textbook Development page). As a result of this new option and because preparing new texts is a lengthy process, the Saylor Foundation has decided to accept both textbook submissions and proposals for textbook development on an ongoing basis. The initiative has recently received funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Saylor Foundation expects to award millions of dollars for open textbooks under CC BY.

CC BY textbook
“CC BY” / opensourceway / CC BY-SA

The cost of education is spiraling, for example the average amount that a U.S. college student spends on textbooks is almost US $1,200 per year. Textbook costs may represent up to seventy-five percent of a Californian community college education, and education affordability is frequently cited as a reason for course dropouts (pdf). The Saylor Foundation tackles this issue by providing free, college-level curricula worldwide via Saylor.org. Their Open Textbook Challenge aims to alleviate cost pressures by encouraging textbook authors to openly license their textbooks with CC BY so that students may use them for free.

5 Responses to “Saylor Foundation expands $20,000 Open Textbook Challenge”

  1. Jules says:

    With the amount of textbooks increasing every year open licensing textbook is a news that’s so welcoming. Students need not to suffer and not continue his studies just because of discouraging textbook costs. Saylor Foundation is a taking the lead to making education affordable and available for many and not just for privilege few.

  2. Sam says:

    I wish the prices of copyrighted textbooks can be lowered considering massive number of students who buy them. Considering textbook publishers and writers earns more money than a general book publisher/author, they have the ability to do this!

  3. Galaxy S4 says:

    This seems like something that may of interest to people who have written textbooks on relevant topics that the Foundation conducts courses on.

  4. Note says:

    Open Textbook Challenge is ongoing and will continue to review submissions from individual authors; however, Davidson said that plans are in the works for a “vetted crowdsourced option” that would enhance existing peer review and editing components of the current publication process.

  5. Nematoda says:

    Just a note to “Sam”: in general, the authors of textbooks do not earn more money than general book authors. It is true that if one publishes an introductory text (say, introduction to biology) with a major textbook publisher, the author will likely earn significant royalties. Still, the author of a successful trade book can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, many textbook authors publish with smaller, independent publishers, such as Sage or Lynne Rienner. I published a fairly successful textbook with one of these publishers and earned, so far, less than $10,000, despite going through three printings with my first edition, and publishing a second edition. Certainly not a King’s ransom.

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