College of Liberal Arts

March 3, 2010 Round-Up: Open-Source Textbooks

Wed, Mar 3, 2010

The round-up this week is presents updates on several open-content projects, reactions to Macmillan's DynamicBooks announcement, and a reason for those in higher ed to not buy an iPad.

  • The iPad and Higher Education (ProfHacker)
    David Parry of UT-Dallas eloquently sums up the enormous divide between supporters of digital textbook tools and those of content. "I will not be buying an iPad. What is more, I am going to make the case that you shouldn’t either, or at least if you are in education you shouldn’t be lying awake at night trying to think of a way to convince your Dean that these need to be purchased for you or your students."
  • Why I Love Open Educational Resources! (The Huffington Post)
    Jim Fruchterman explains why he prefers OERs to proprietary tools. "The key thing is that the content is open; anyone can use, reuse and share it, rather than being proprietary. The creator of an OER has set it free to make it easy for everybody to use it."
  • CLRN Digital Textbook Initiative, Phase Two Announcement (California Learning Resource Network) 
    The California DTI moved to its second phase at the end of January, opening submission and review for history/social science and advanced mathematics content.

Other open-content projects:

  • Open Courseware Consortium - "more than 200 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model."
  • Community College Open Textbook Collaborative - "provides training for instructors adopting open resources, peer reviews of open textbooks, an online professional network, support for authors opening their resources, and other services."
  • Open Textbooks followup - Where to find good ones? (list of resources)
  • Bright Hub: Open Source Textbooks (list of resources)
  • Flat World Knowledge: Open College Textbooks (
    Sanford Forte, Director of Business Development at Flat World Knowledge, discusses the state of the higher ed textbook industry, and why his company is flourishing. "We create open-licensed college textbooks as a key strategy toward ending the toll taken on American students and American society that results from outmoded pricing and business models deployed by traditional college textbook publishers."

One of the textbook industry giants -- Macmillan -- caused quite a stir by announcing at the end of February that they will unleash DynamicBooks, software that will let professors tailor textbooks for their students. The versions can be customized at the level of chapter, paragraph, and even sentence. Instructors can insert media along with their own examples or definitions, and modifications will be clearly marked to protect the rights of textbook content authors.

Responses to Macmillan's announcement:

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