Thursday, April 26, 2012
University [of Minnesota] Looks to Remove Barriers to Open Textbooks
University of Minnesota officials have adopted popular parts of open textbook initiatives from across the country
Low-cost, open-content textbooks are universally popular on college campuses, but two burning questions have stunted the open textbook movement: Where can faculty and students find these resources, and how can they be sure the books are of the highest quality?
The University of Minnesota (UMN) set out to answer both questions with its April 23 introduction of the campus’s Open Academics textbook catalog, an online repository of textbooks with an open license that lets students read the books for free online, or order a printed version for a fraction of the usual textbook cost.
UMN’s open textbook library, with 90 books in stock, will first provide textbooks for the school’s largest introductory classes, with plans to expand to smaller courses in coming years.
UMN officials who assembled the Open Academics textbook catalog followed the example of the University of Massachusetts Amherst by offering $500 to any faculty member who would review or adopt an open book.
UMN will ask professors from all campus departments to contribute to the review and adoption efforts and might partner with foundations to bring more experts into the textbook review process, said Dave Ernst, a university faculty member who headed the creation of the open-content catalog.
UMass Amherst’s Open Education Initiative last year awarded ten $1,000 grants to eight faculty members who developed low-cost technological alternatives to commercial textbooks that can cost upwards of $300 apiece. The school’s $10,000 grant program saved students more than $70,000 in 2011, according to a UMass Amherst announcement.
Low-cost, open-content textbooks are universally popular on college campuses, but two burning questions have stunted the open textbook movement: Where can faculty and students find these resources, and how can they be sure the books...
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