12 August 2012

Free College Textbooks to go with Free College Classes

Top ranked US universities such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc. are now offering free courses through websites such as Coursera, EdX, Udacity, and more. To go along with these high quality, free online course offerings, more websites are offering free textbooks. But the new generation of free textbooks can also be used for conventional, on-campus courses -- saving students as much as $1000 per session.

“There’s a crisis of access in this country,” says Richard Baraniuk, a computer and electrical engineering professor at Rice University. He’s talking about the rapidly increasing cost of college education, which includes not only tuition, but also room and board, class fees and, yes, textbooks. Estimates of how much students spend on textbooks in a given year vary widely, but most colleges’ financial aid websites peg the cost at about $1,000.

Baraniuk thinks that cost should be reduced to zero. He’s been part of the open-source educational movement since 1999, when he grew frustrated with the book he was using in his electrical engineering class. He considered writing a book himself but had an epiphany as he learned more about the open-source operating system Linux. “I realized that we could take the same ideas–namely, modularity…and open-sourcedness, making it free and remixable–and apply that not just to software but to textbooks.” _Business.Time

Here are some websites devoted to providing free college textbooks:

OpenStax College

Flat World Knowledge

Open Textbook Catalog (meant as an open review of free textbooks)

Textbook Revolution

Web Directory dedicated to access to free textbooks, lecture notes, and classes

Apple Textbooks -- Not free, but a hint of what future textbooks may be like

The main problem with all of these free online materials is that that all of this effort and energy is being applied at least 10 years too late in a child's life. Modern child-raising and early childhood education have already destroyed most of a child's potential by the time he reaches college age.

But at least someone is trying. Many self-directed learners from precocious teens to adults are likely to benefit from these opportunities. Now, if these disruptive ideas would only percolate downward into the morass of corrupt government education . . . .


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Blogger Eric said...

Even peer-reviewed academic journals are following this trend, breaking down monopolies established centuries (!) ago:

Sunday, 12 August, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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