Textbooks for Free

Esteban Cortez / The Collegian

When I wrote last month’s two-parter here and here on eTextbooks, space limitations prevented me from adding this little bit of information: there’s a  free eTextbook site recommended by the CSU Chancellor’s office already up and running. It’s Flat World Knowledge, but this site doesn’t offer a very broad selection of textbooks and it’s not being used by enough instructors at Fresno State.

Now comes news from TechDirt that Rice University has just entered the eTextbook field with a vengeance:

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.

I checked out the free course materials already up and running on this barely month-old site, and found a pretty good assortment in categories from Art to Social Science.

I picked one out on music, Sound Reasoning, which is a course in music appreciation, and found it to be filled with sound samples and self-tests and was extremely thorough.  I’m excited to check this out. Maybe this Summer.

Each eTextbook can be downloaded in PDF or epub format and then can be put on any mobile device or laptop. And the open source nature of Connexions means that all the texts can be and will be revised to reflect new content when necessary.

No more having to purchase the latest revised edition because it’ll be upgraded and you can go online and upgrade for free.

Now all we need is for professors to start using these materials in their curricula.


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