Eating our own dogfood – alternatives to traditional txtbooks

Chronicle : Temple U. Project Ditches Textbooks for Homemade Digital Alternatives

The pilot project gave 11 faculty members $1,000 each to create a digital alternative to a traditional textbook. To enliven their students’ reading, the instructors pulled together primary-source documents and material culled from library archives. Steven J. Bell, the associate university librarian for research and instructional services at Temple, said the project tried to create new kinds of learning experiences while saving students money at the same time. The textbooks covered a variety of subjects, including biomechanics, writing, and marketing. The Temple program mirrors a similar effort announced at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in December.

Her students reacted “with glee” at the online book’s free price tag, she said.

UMASS Press Release

 UMass Amherst Provost’s Office and the University Libraries launched a program in the spring of 2011—the Open Education Initiative—that supports faculty interested in pursuing non-traditional educational resources as an alternative to the traditional commercial textbook.

Eight faculty members were awarded a total of 10 grants, $1,000 per course, to adopt a new curricular resource strategy using easily identified digital resources. Under the program, faculty developed a variety of alternatives, from creating an online open access lab manual to utilizing e-books and streaming media available through the Libraries’ numerous databases. In support of this initiative, librarians developed a comprehensive subject guide to open educational resources.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, it is estimated this $10,000 investment will save 700 students more than $72,000 – money that would have been spent on commercial textbooks for these courses.

For more on the UMASS Open Education Initiative – go here

OpenStax College is another alternative:

OpenStax College is a nonprofit organization committed to improving student access to quality learning materials. Our free textbooks are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of your course. Through our partnerships with companies and foundations committed to reducing costs for students, OpenStax College is working to improve access to higher education for all. OpenStax College is an initiative of Rice University and is made possible through the generous support of several philanthropic foundations.

More info at Techdirt

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