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Free Textbook Movement

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CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new open textbook initiative could save students thousands of dollars in textbook prices if the program picks up momentum.

Students have been speaking out for years about the cost of textbooks.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Oregon State University student Jose Schofield. “I mean honestly, it’s a book that should be easy for us to get and use for education.”

For some students, textbooks cost thousands of dollars a year.

“I’m not really happy,” said student Anastasia Sokoloff. “I’m pretty upset. It’s frustrating.”

So imagine a different world.

“Textbooks are free,” said Shan Sutton, the Associate University Librarian for Research and Scholarly Communication. “Free not only for OSU students, but students and faculty from many universities around the world could adopt these resources for their own courses.”

The idea is already becoming a reality in some classes at OSU. It’s called the open textbook initiative, where faculty publish their own content online that is available free of charge.

“This project really embodies the Land Grant Mission of OSU,” Sutton said.

Sutton says one goal is to make higher education more affordable.

Two biochemistry professors, Indira Rajagopal and Kevin Ahern wrote their open textbook together, and it is now available online to the world for free. So far it has been downloaded over 72,000 times.

“If I can provide students with what they need to learn without having to spend the 200 bucks, well I’ve just saved them some money that for most of them is kind of hard to come by,” Rajagopal said.

She says her biochemistry classes used to require a $200 textbook.

But with the help of the OSU Open Educational Resources and Emerging Technologies Unit at OSU Extended Campus, professors can enhance their online texts.

“We have the tools to create interactive things so students can work with a text in a way that they can’t with a printed text,” said Dianna Fisher, the unit’s director. “We can help create videos, animations, and modules for example.”

Faculty can use other posted materials from around the world for their own courses free of charge.

So what’s in it for the professors?

“What’s in it for the professor when you teach at any time? You are there to serve students,” Ahern said. “You’re there to spread education. You’re there to make people understand something that they didn’t otherwise understand.”

The open textbook initiative is a new program – a partnership among OSU Libraries, OSU Press, and OSU Extended Campus. Despite its recent appearance at OSU, the program says it hopes more professors on campus will participate in the nationwide movement.

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  1. William F, Trench says:

    The following items can be downloaded free of charge from Digital.Commons@Trinity:

    1. ELEMENTARY DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
    http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/mono/8/,
    previously published by Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning, 2000,

    2. ELEMENTARY DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS WITH BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS,
    http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/mono/9/,
    previously published by Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning, 2000,

    3. STUDENT SOLUTIONS MANUAL FOR ELEMENTARY DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS AND
    ELEMENTARY DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS WITH BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS
    http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/mono/10/
    previously published by Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning, 2000.

    4. INTRODUCTION TO REAL ANALYSIS
    http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/mono/7/,
    previously published by Pearson Education, 2003,

    5. FUNCTIONS DEFINED BY IMPROPER INTEGRALS
    http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/mono/7/,
    previously published by Harper & Row, 1978,

    6. THE METHOD OF LAGRANGE MULTIPLIERS,
    http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/mono/7/
    previously published by Harper & Row, 1978.

    These items have all been judged to meet the evaluation criteria set by the
    Editorial Board of the American Institute of Mathematics in connection with the
    Institute’s Open Textbook Initiative

    http://www.aimath.org/textbooks.

    They may be copied, modified, redistributed, translated, and built upon subject
    to the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/deed.en_G.

    For further information, see

    Digital Commons Network / Mathematics Commons
    http://network.bepress.com/physical-sciences-and-mathematics/mathematics/.

    The LaTeX source code and graphics files for Items 1-3 are in a zipfile
    posted on

    http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/mono/8/.

    The LaTeX source code and graphics files for items 3-6 are in a zipfile
    posted on

    http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/mono/7/.

    Instructor’s solutions manuals are available on request to wtrench@trinity.edu,
    subject to verification of faculty status. They are not licensed under Creative
    Commons and may not be reproduced, modified, or circulated without my written
    permission.

    Please forward this message to colleagues, friends, and students who may be
    interested.

    William F. Trench
    Andrew G. Cowles Distinguished Professor Emeritus
    Mathematics Department
    Trinity University
    San Antonio, Texas, USA
    wtrench@trinity.edu
    http://ramanujan.math.trinity.edu/wtrench/index.shtml

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