OpenStax College on free, online textbooks

In the textbook publishing world, the adoption cycle works as the following : enormous textbook corporations try and convince professors to take on their textbooks for the courses they teach.  Once adopted, scholars must purchase claimed textbooks, which cost, typically around $175.  In the bill buck textbook publishing industry, the publishing giants who’ve speculators to delight care less about making learning resources available at a good price, and more about their net result.  So when sales are down, the corporations raise costs. Unfortunately, the weight of these increasing costs falls on the scholars who need to pay the sizeable costs of these textbooks.

Of course, scholars are faced with a real problem when it comes down to textbook buying.  Enter OpenStax  School , the Rice University-based initiative making open-source ( read : completely free ) and quality textbooks, authored by pros and reviewed by pro editors and content developers. We chatted with the non-profit’s founder Rich Baraniuk and editor-in-chief David Harris, who shared revelations about the textbook publishing industry and why the time to massively change it’s now.

OpenStax  University  announced today plans to above double the amount of titles in its catalogue of free, online textbooks by 2015, courtesy of a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.  More than 150 varsities, varsities and schools have adopted an OpenStax textbook since the non profit publisher’s 2012 launch.  OpenStax’s introductory textbooks for physics and sociology have been downloaded more than seventy thousand times, with 2 new biology books and an introductory anatomy book starting to become available this autumn.  The LJAF grant will permit OpenStax to add books in 6 more subjects — precalculus, chemistry, economics, U.S.

History, psychology and stats — by 2015.  “Access is the way ahead for higher education,” related Rice Professor Richard Baraniuk, founder and director of OpenStax  University .

“With student debt at a record high, it hasn’t ever been more imperative to make education more cost-effective.  Our textbooks do that — not only because they’re free, but also because they’re equally as good as books that cost $100 or even more.  Philanthropic support from forward-thinking partners is important to making this possible.” OpenStax  School  invests more than $500,000 to develop each book.  It hires the same content developers that major publishers hire, and its books are peer-reviewed by masses of faculty reviewers.  Grants give the opportunity for OpenStax to supply its titles absolutely free.

OpenStax  School  eventually plans to supply books for twenty-five of the country’s most-attended varsity courses. Students could save an approximate $750 million over 5 years if the publisher reaches its objective of capturing ten % of the marketplace for every one of the twenty-five books.

One of the benefits of the open-source model is that the material isn’t static on a page, but instead can be updated continually and straight away, as editor-and-chief David Harris indicated.  Harris has a background in publishing, and has worked in commercial publishing with numerous huge textbook firms. Over time he grew alarmed with publishers’ methods, who would publish revised editions of textbooks as few as 2 or 3 years after an original edition had been printed, with only minor updates to the first but the same large price ticket.  “The lovely thing about open education resources [OER], and OpenStax particularly, is that we aren’t causing revisions,” Harris declared.


“The reality is, core principles of physics don’t change. Why must you just scramble the order of issues, perhaps add some colour, then force scholars to purchase a new book?  Some subjects do change biology, economics and there you have a concept to update.

But do the update when it’s pedagogically the rationale, and not to get rid of used books.”.


Other Open Source and Free Textbook sites