How one professor saves students millions with his shared textbooks

Professor David Lippman has saved students a million dollars. David co-wrote two math textbooks and built iMathAS, a free, open-source math assessment and course platform. Nearly all of his work is licensed under a Creative Commons license, allowing others to access, reuse, and edit his work for free.

Unlike traditional publishers that won’t publish known textbook errors out of fear of compromising their business, David wants edits. “Whatever I create’s not going to be perfect. So I want to make sure that people have the ability to make changes and improvements, and hopefully contribute back.” One volunteer once contributed a thousand copy edits — for free. “He wouldn’t have done that for a traditional textbook.”

One day last year, David Lippman got an interesting Google Alert. 1,300 miles away, fellow math professor James Sousa had created free video tutorials for almost every example question in David’s basic math textbook. James did all of that without asking for David’s permission: David had already given permission by licensing his work under a Creative Commons license.

David loves getting that kind of news. He’s dedicated his career to making it easier for instructors and students to get the math content they need. David licenses almost everything he creates under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, which allows anyone to republish, reuse, or remix a piece of content so long as they give him credit and share their own version under the same license. “Whatever I create’s not going to be perfect,” David says. “So I want to make sure that people have the ability to make changes and improvements, and hopefully contribute back.”

David built iMathAS, a free, open-source platform that generates math homework problems and grades students’ work. He’s also co-written two math textbooks — one on precalculus and one for a basic college-level math survey course.

Source: TeamOpen