In today’s economy and rising prices for everything cutting costs for students in areas where we can has become and will continue to be of paramount importance to students and their families in making a choice on where they can go to college. Mainstream media has jumped on the bandwagon with various articles on free and reduced cost textbooks over the last couple of years. These include articles in US News and World Report which provides an overview of available textbooks resources from free to reduced cost.
In September 14, 2008 the New York Times reported in an article on the various options of providing textbooks at reduced costs including print on demand options such as Lulu and Flatworld Knowledge, allowing free downloads in Word and PDFs versions of textbooks, and sites such as Merlot and Connexions. In an LA Times article dated August 18, 2008 economic text author McAfee noted that it does take work to find online textbooks and resource. More on McAfree’s work and rationale for open sourcing his textbooks can also be found in this Inside Higher Ed article.
There are some student run sites such as Textbook Revolution which provides:
Our approach is to bring all of the free textbooks we can find together in one place, review them, and let the best rise to the top and find their way into the hands of students in classrooms around the world…. links to textbooks and select educational resources of all kinds. Some of the books are PDF files; others are viewable online as e-books.
Another similar site to this one, but not student run, is the Open Textbook Registry which is:
a registry of textbooks (and related materials) which are open — that is free for anyone to use, reuse and redistribute. It is run by the Open Knowledge Foundation.
Of course one must be concerned because the cost of textbooks seems to increase the likelihood that students will engange in illegal activities to get the books that they need for little or no cost as related in this article from Boston.com ..
“We think it’s a significant problem,” said William Sampson, manager of infringement and antipiracy at Cengage Learning Inc., a reference book publisher in Farmington Hills, Mich. Sampson said that in any given month, 200 to 300 of the company’s titles are posted illegally as free Internet downloads. Distributing books for free without permission violates copyright laws and deprives publishers of revenue.”
We will be evaluating the use of Merlot in the months to come, however it is important to note that Merlot plays a significant role in the affordable textbook initiative. Membership in Merlot provides individuals with the opportunity to contribute learning materials, create a personal collection, share online expertise, and receive peer recognition. The Open Textbook project for Merlot is found at this link on their website and contains 279 resources. Of course membership is not required to access the resources on the website. It is important to note that their resources undergo an peer review and are rated.
Do you use any of the resources below in developing your course content, if not why not? If you favorite resource is not here would you note that in the comments? If you do why? What are the advantages? How are these received by students?
I posed the question regarding free/open source textbooks to the DEOS list serv, this is a list serv for those who work in the field of distance education, and received information back regarding the Orange Grove. The Orange Grove was also profiled in Inside Higher Ed in September. The Orange Grove is actually an example of a university press providing course/textbooks online and downloadable for free. Another good example is that Anthabasca Press http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/bySeries/2 which includes:
Anthabasca University Press is part of the growing collection of the Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library (LHCADL). AU Press’s open access, digital collection of peer reviewed scholarly work provides valuable educational resources (e-books, journals, website publications and videos) that support Lois Hole’s vision of accessible research and learning.
Another example of efforts in promoting open access resources is this on e of an individual keeping a resource base of applicable web based resources on the Technology Training Center of Porterville College. See this comprehensive list of resources here: http://www.portervillecollege.edu/tlc/resources.htm#OER
Freetextbooks: This site seems to have a little of everything from lecture notes, to free textbooks, and other webbased resources.
Learnout loud: your one-stop destination for audio and video learning. Browse over 20,000 educational audio books, MP3 downloads, podcasts, and video.
Further examples of open education resource depositories include Wikimedia. Under the umbrella of Wikimedia is Wikiversity, Wikisource, and Wikibooks both provide accessible resources for textbooks and course content.
Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning.
Wikisource is an online library of free content publications collected and maintained by our community. We now have 135,382 texts in the English language library.
Wikibooks a Wikimedia community for creating a free library of educational textbooks that anyone can edit. Wikibooks began on July 10, 2003; since then Wikibooks has grown to include over 38,399 pages …
Wikia Education; A list of University / Education Wikis
Wikiversity: a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning. We invite teachers, students, and researchers to join us in creating open educational resources and collaborative learning communities.
An open university is one in which
- The research the university produces is open access.
- The course materials are open educational resources.
- The university embraces free software and open standards.
- If the university holds patents, it readily licenses them for free software, essential medicines, and the public good.
- The university network reflects the open nature of the internet.
where “university” includes all parts of the community: students, faculty, administration. The Declaration was a joint statement of the community at the [Free Culture 2008 Conference] in Berkeley, CA.
Amser: AMSER, Applied Math, Sciences Educational Repository, is a portal of educational resources and servicesCommunity and Technical Colleges but free for anyone to use. built specifically for use by those in
Private industry is also getting involved in the opencourseware initiative as well as indicated by the Novell Opencourseware site. They state that: OpenCourseWare is a collection of educational materials developed by Novell Training Services for authorized courses and other customer training purposes. By making these materials available to the public, we hope to extend to all people worldwide the opportunity to access these high quality learning materials.
Open Culture University: Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high quality content whenever and wherever you want it. Free audio books, free university courses, free movies, free language lessons and other enriching content — it’s all here. (from their website)
Videos, I Tunes v-casts, podcasts, etc., all provide the educator and student with access to a broad spectrum of educators in their field of discipline:
Ted Talks: TED.com, we make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free. More than 450 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. All of the talks feature closed captions in English, and many feature subtitles in various languages. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted. (retrieved from their website)
FORA.tv helps intelligent, engaged audiences get smart. Our users find, enjoy, and share videos about the people, issues, and ideas changing the world.
We gather the web’s largest collection of unmediated video drawn from live events, lectures, and debates going on all the time at the world’s top universities, think tanks and conferences. We present this provocative, big-idea content for anyone to watch, interact with, and share –when, where, and how they want.
With our community of savvy users and an extensive, growing library of smart videos, FORA.tv is at the forefront of the ongoing integration – and transformation – of the traditional media, TV, cable, and online industries from mass-market to high-quality, high-value content. FORA.tv was founded in 2005 and is funded by a select group of investors including William R. Hearst III and Adobe Ventures. (retrieved from their website)
Psychology/about.com About sites usually provide a detailed list of web based resources in a variety of areas.
LearnOutLoud audio and video resources for Psychology (from their website) Check out 10 of the top free online psychology audio books, lectures, & podcasts. For the past three years we’ve featured dozens of free psychology resources as part of our Free Resource of the Day Emails
EduFire: Live Video Learning Online Classes Fit Your Busy Schedule Learning is easy with top instructors. Learn anytime from anywhere.. from their website they state:
We have a simple (but not easy) mission: Revolutionize education. Our goal is to create a platform to allow live learning to take place over the Internet anytime from anywhere. Most importantly…for anyone. We’re the first people (that we know of) to create something that’s totally open and community-driven (rather than closed and transaction-driven.
As you can see there is an endless supply of resources on the web and it grows daily. If this is not enough for you or your class they can collaboratively create their own content via blogs, webcasts, wikis, and podcasts! It’s a whole new age in education of self-created content, self learning to group activities, collaboration and building on or “meshing’ up the knowledge of other resources.