Students returning to college after summer break may find cheaper textbook alternatives waiting for them at the bookstore. Others will have the option of downloading electronic versions of textbooks for free or purchasing reasonably priced print versions.
Despite meeting the software, hardware, and price needs of a Michigan high school, Businessweek reports that Apple’s iPad is being rejected by the school for two reasons: Teachers lack the ability to remotely monitor student activity and content in the form e-textbooks are not (yet) widely available from publishers.
The first problem can only be solved by an update to the iPad operating system. Will enough school districts asking for this feature compel Apple to make this change? The second, e-textbook availability, is likely to resolve itself in the near future as publishers add additional ebook titles. Whether or not students will embrace e-textbooks is another matter. A recent survey conducted on 19 college campuses showed that nearly 75% of college students preferred a printed textbook over an electronic version.
The Fort-Worth Star Telegram reports on legislation passed in Texas earlier this year (2009) that would enable the Texas Education Agency to create an online repository of open source textbooks for schools to adopt. The state would also have the right to modify and update the works after purchase.
News from Florida: Free open textbooks for everyone.
It was announced recently that a joint program called Orange Grove Texts Plus (OGT+) has been established between the University Press of Florida (UFP) and The Orange Grove, Florida’s Digital Repository, to provide free downloads of open access textbooks. Downloads of electronic versions of books are available to anyone from the Orange Grove website. Print copies can be ordered “for about half the cost of traditional textbooks” (see “For Students”).
Most of the news stories I saw on the announcement said this would be free for Florida students (they were Florida-based publications) but as open access web resources go, they are indeed available to those outside of Florida. Currently, 126 books are available in the collection (here’s the list [PDF]) but they plan to include a “large selection” of titles from UFP’s 1600 title backlist.
You can browse the collection online at The Orange Grove site and choosing:
Browse Collections > Open Textbook Resources
It seems the movement away from high priced textbooks is gaining momentum. I saw references to these three happenings in the past few weeks:
Here are some additional sites: