An introduction to open source textbooks

An introduction to open source textbooks

Teachers and students are calling for a textbook revolution. The truth is that the printed textbook is too expensive for normal students on a tight budget. The print book industry has had a monopoly for decades and therefore had the ability to drive textbook prices up exponentially. This is why open source textbooks come at a time when students are looking for alternatives.

The term was first coined to refer to software, which means that other developers can view and use the code for their own use. When you use the same word for textbooks, it means learning materials that other teachers can view and edit for their own classes.

How does it work?

Open source material does not go through the rigorous process of writing, editing, and publishing that printed books go through. You run the risk of not being properly vetted before being used. Because of this, universities are leading the way in creating these learning materials that still maintain the accuracy of the information. Professors are being tapped and paid to write the content for open source books, often supported by the university or other donors.

Teachers can also earn money whenever these materials are printed. So, students and teachers looking for content to use in classes, be sure to look for those developed by universities to ensure content quality.

Because these types of books are developed and available online, these forms of learning materials can use technology. For example, Apple has developed its own iBooks author, making it easy for anyone to design their own content for viewing on iPads everywhere. Once an author has finished with open source learning material, it can be uploaded to “libraries” or online learning databases for students and teachers to access. Open source materials are also considered more environmentally friendly, since trees are not cut down to produce paper and printed books. A student or teacher can choose which ones to print.

Writers who are concerned about copyright shouldn’t worry about licensing either, as there are still options to protect your content. The main difference is that you can still choose to allow certain uses of your materials. For the Academy, being able to use these contents for free can help teachers to enrich their lessons and make them more interactive and up-to-date, since there is no more waiting for new editions to come out.

In short, open source textbook adoption is a win-win scenario for both teachers and teachers. The information is available online, cheaply or free of charge, and can be used for personal or educational purposes.

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