Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Advocating for 21st Century Learning Tools: Getting Rid of Textbooks

There are number of reasons for schools to get out of the textbook purchasing business. Besides the fact that they are sometimes used unwisely as the sole tool for classroom instruction, there’s also the skyrocketing costs for purchasing textbooks as well. I had honestly hoped that textbook companies would begin to follow what general book publishers are doing: offering e-book versions at almost half the price (or less) of the physical textbook. Honestly, I have not looked too closely, but I looked at what Prentice Hall charges for their e-books versus the physical textbook, and they are still charging almost three-fourths of the cost of a regular textbook for an e-book. I think it’s time that schools begin looking for alternatives to traditional textbooks rather than continuing to pour our scarce funding into books that will be outdated in a few years anyway and only be good as doorstops and dust-collectors. The time has come for the development of both Open Source textbooks and teaching materials, and for low cost, web-based text and instructional resources. With the passage of time, there will be more and more sources of textbook alternatives available to use as instructional tools. We need to avoid purchasing any more textbooks and take advantage of the free and inexpensive resources available on line.

Here’s a list of links to some Open Source and Free text sources that teachers might find as a starting point for instructional resources.

A First Course in Linear Algebra

Wired Story About Open Source College Texts

Wikibooks (Open Source Books)

Community College Open Textbook Collaborative

Connexions (Open Source Content)


Textbook Revolution



Online Math and Science Textbooks from University of Colorado

This list is certainly not definitive. There are a number of resources for online texts and learning materials. Our schools should not purchase another single textbook. Instead let’s use our money to buy 21st century, relevant teaching tools.


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