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Global Text Project – Wiki Textbooks 108

Posted by kdawson
from the let-1000-textbooks-bloom dept.
Grooves writes, "A new initiative spearheaded by a University of Georgia professor aims to produce a library of 1,000 wiki textbooks by tapping the collaborative power of wiki. Inspiration for the project came from a computer science course that wrote its own textbook on XML when no suitable commercial offerings were available. From the article: 'The Global Text Project will work a bit differently from most wikis. Each chapter of each book will be overseen by an academic with knowledge of that field. Although the site will allow anyone to make changes, these will not become "official" until an editor signs off on them.' Textbooks free as in speech, and beer? Sign me up."
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Global Text Project – Wiki Textbooks

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  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PrinceAshitaka (562972) * on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:36AM (#16051031) Homepage
    I am looing forward to this. While MIT's attempts to open up thier classes on the internet seemed novel, it was not the resource I was hoping it would be. I was hoping it would be a good reference place when I needed to remember something from my college days as all my textbooks from college are buried in storage. This shows promise but I will reserve my judgement for it's usefullness for now.
    • by jank1887 (815982)
      If I remember correctly (haven't looked in a while), the MIT opencourseware thing seemed more like an 'online classnotes repository'. That would make it a perfect complement to an open source textbook.

      Now, from an academic validity standpoint, how would you reference the texts? Would the editors have finalized 'editions' that go into an uneditable archive mode, and only the 'latest' editions are wiki-able? That would at least be managable from a referencing point of view, but would detract a bit of t

      • Finished Goods. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by twitter (104583) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @10:20AM (#16051968) Homepage Journal

        how would you reference the texts? Would the editors have finalized 'editions' that go into an uneditable archive mode, and only the 'latest' editions are wiki-able?

        Yes. Wikibooks makes PDFs for "completed" texts. [wikibooks.org]

        That would at least be managable from a referencing point of view, but would detract a bit of the credibility from the 'work in progress' copies.

        If only dead tree publishers had that kind of credibility for text books. The rate of minor and meaningless changes to create new "editions" is outrageous. I'm looking forward to wikibooks being an island of stability in the academic publishing world.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gwjenkins (968023)
      Can I put in a vote for Highschool textbooks as well as University. There is one wikibook so far that looks particularly good for students http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Algebra_I_in_Simple_E nglish [wikibooks.org]. Clear, highschool level textbooks would be just fantastic. Cheers.
  • Wicked! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Chaffar (670874) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:37AM (#16051034)
    Inspiration for the project came from a computer science course that wrote its own textbook on XML when no suitable commercial offerings were available
    A course that writes its own textbooks? Sweeet...
  • With OLPC/CM1 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:42AM (#16051050)
    Will this work with the One Laptop Per Child program (OLPC [mit.edu])? I thought I had heard that the OLPC planned to use wiki technology for books as one of its goals. A major need of that program is free, open, but accurate and factual content, not just technology.
  • Its been done (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:42AM (#16051052)
    Connexions - online textbook repository. All XML-ized.

    http://cnx.org/ [cnx.org]

    And the Google Techtalk:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6852287090 518403675&q=http%3A%2F%2Fcnx.org%2F [google.com]
    • Re:Its been done (Score:5, Insightful)

      by legoburner (702695) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:56AM (#16051093) Homepage Journal
      The reason nobody has heard of it is probably the evil college bookstore cartel. They will break your hands with hammers if they find out you have been using free textbooks instead of the ones they sell. Not to mention what happens to professors that dont require a textbook which costs at least $50 for a course... let's just say they are not usually teaching by the summer semester.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by interiot (50685)
        That's right. Wikimedia foundation also tried to start up a wikiproject to increase gas mileage in cars, but the auto industry quietly put the kebash on that too.
        • Compiling your own carburetor was insufficiently n00b-friendly, not to mention the requirement to have the entire text of the GFDL printed on the device.
      • Re:Its been done (Score:5, Informative)

        by StupendousMan (69768) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @08:44AM (#16051292) Homepage

        I am a university professor. I don't require my students to purchase textbooks for the introductory physics courses I teach. I provide my complete lecture notes online [rit.edu], and permit students to use older textbooks if they wish; after all, the material we're covering hasn't changed in the past few hundred years, so _any_ textbook they can find will serve as a useful reference.

        I write my own homework problems so that my students won't have to purchase a textbook simply for that purpose.

        The bookstore hasn't broken my hands, nor has the university reprimanded me. We've just started a new fall quarter this week, and I'm still teaching.

        So, in brief, your statement is not correct.

        • by NotBorg (829820) *
          Yup. When I was attending university classes, you could get the required books anywhere you like.

          My only beef with the university bookstore was that they only offered a small discount for used books regardless of the physical condition of the book. At the end of the semester when you went to sell your books back you got such a small amount back that one wonders where the money goes. Supposedly the book store was not for profit. Since most of the employees were students themselves you wouldn't think ther
          • by mazarin5 (309432)
            I'm fortunate in that sense for two of my graduate courses. In the first, the standard text put out its last edition in 1986. For the other, the 7th edition was released this year, but the professor has what is essentially the changelog and allows us to use the 5th and 6th editions as well.

            Some books dramatically change the homework problems, or reorder them, or simply change the value of the variables involved so the method to solve it is the same, but the answer will be different. The changelog allows the
          • Further aggravating is that every time a book comes out with a new edition (yearly in many cases) the instructor puts the new edition in as a required text. The "old" text are removed from bookstore circulation. Does a physics book for a second or third semester class change that much in the course of a year?

            Publishers are constantly changing the web sites which are associated with their introductory physics textbooks. If a professor chooses to use the material on the web site -- often homework prob

        • by twitter (104583)

          "Broken hands" and "fired teachers" comments are joke comments made to disrupt useful conversation about the real failings of paper texts and the academic publishers. While some greed heads at my University might have a cow at the thought of anyone giving away their precious "intellectual property", the vast majority of professors remember that part of their mission is education. Collaborative, electronic textbooks are sure to overtake traditional publications in the same way free software has overtaken n

          • by jb.hl.com (782137)
            Collaborative, electronic textbooks are sure to overtake traditional publications in the same way free software has overtaken non free.

            When you put it that way, it sounds like electronic textbooks WON'T overtake traditional publications, in the exact way that free software hasn't even begun to overtake non-free.
            • by twitter (104583)

              My biggest fan [slashdot.org] mindlessly taunts:

              When you put it that way, it sounds like electronic textbooks WON'T overtake traditional publications, in the exact way that free software hasn't even begun to overtake non-free.

              I'm talking about features, performance, quality and price, not market share but that shall come to both. The advance of free software is based on those advantages and is remarkable given the intense efforts by a few convicted monopolists to stop it. As the rise of Google and Wikipedia show, the

              • by jb.hl.com (782137)
                I'll bite.

                Let's play a little comparison between free software and non-free software. This is based on my own personal experience.

                Ubuntu takes about 40 seconds to a minute to boot. Windows takes about 25 to 30 seconds.
                Ubuntu doesn't support WPA-PSK out of the box. Windows does.
                Ubuntu doesn't support my USB wireless stick, my webcam or any of my games. Windows does.
                The Ubuntu desktop has window tearing and visible redrawing, with windows caught mid-redraw, the order of the day. Windows does.
                With Ubuntu, nume
                • by Randseed (132501)
                  Oh, I agree. Linux is good for some things, and those things it does very well, like scientific applications, F/OSS, server applications, etc. It's supremely terrible for CAD, games, or supporting random consumer-grade hardware. I'm just impressed that when I plug in a USB drive (or my Lifedrive acting as one) Ubuntu recognizes it and mounts it. That's saying something.
              • by The Bungi (221687)
                twitter, I would absolutely love to see what type of reply you're planning for this [slashdot.org]. That is, unless you want to be seen as someone who can't defend their "views", if we might do them that kindness.

                Really though, I'm actually excited about what you're going to say.

        • by arudloff (564805) *
          You are a true blessing to your students. I wish all prof's were like this. When I was at UCF, teachers would sell their notes in the bookstore, not give them for free online (graduated 2003).
          • by FunkyELF (609131)
            When I was at UCF, teachers would sell their notes in the bookstore, not give them for free online
            I don't remember any time I had to pay for notes. In my biology class they were available online or you had the option to pay for them at the bookstore. I graduated 2005.
        • by jnowlan (618290)
          A sincere thank you professor. I suspect you are in the minority, but I really don't know. I don't see enough students questioning whether they need to buy a textbook or not. Maybe this is always the way it is, i.e. a few activist, questioning types, everyone else accepting what they are told. Unfortunately, many new students don't realize there are options.
        • Re:Its been done (Score:4, Insightful)

          by The Spoonman (634311) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:00AM (#16052363) Homepage
          As others have pointed out, you are the exception, rather than the norm. I believe you might even find you're the exception at RIT, too. While I attended UR, I had many friends at RIT who shared similar circumstances. Specifically, we had professors who insisted on specific versions of books only. The next to worst were those who didn't let you know what the requirements were until the first class, so in most cases you had to RUN to the bookstore after class in hopes of catching one of the few used books that were available. The worst, for whom I reserve a special place in hell, are those who insisted you purchase THEIR book....and then it wasn't used in the class.
          • by acherusia (995492)

            I've been burned by professors trying to profit off their own books before. What I tend to do before buying books now is check the syllabus to see when it's required. If a book makes no appearance in the syllabus except in the books to buy section (as has happened before), I hold off buying it until the professor announces in class that we're going to need that book. Which has sometimes never happened. (And, of course, sometimes it does and I need to make an emergency trip to the bookstore, but I can li

            • I actually had one that had questions on the tests for which the information only came from his book. He'd then score those questions at like 20-25%.
          • by TageSabo (560318)
            My math professors mostly use their own books in the courses, and we are told to buy those. But then again, the most recent version is usually found at www.math.ku.dk/noter [math.ku.dk]. That's textbooks enough for the first 3 years in college studying math, before it gets too specialized. All books are in danish, though, so maybe not so interesting for everyone.
        • I'm a professor too, and I have run into a little resistance to using older texts. No evil cartel, just people who don't like thinking outside the box. My campus bookstore refuses to get out of print books, and that makes my department staff nervous. So I used an in-print Dover book for my linear algebra course last year and no one complained. My students didn't all like the book but they were thankful for the price ($7 used).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bcrowell (177657)

        The reason nobody has heard of it is probably the evil college bookstore cartel.
        I think it's a bit of a stretch to blame college bookstores for this. They're mostly nonprofit. It's the publishers who are really being evil.

        They will break your hands with hammers if they find out you have been using free textbooks instead of the ones they sell.
        I'm currently typing this with two unbroken hands, after 9 years of using free textbooks [lightandmatter.com] in my physics classes.

        There are already hundreds of free college text

  • wiki process (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joe094287523459087 (564414) <joe&joe,to> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:44AM (#16051055) Homepage
    i would hate to see how they determine what's "notable."

    the wikipedia encyclopedia is ok for science topics but for all the cultural/historical entries, it's like the worst of MySpace combined with the most boring blogs. half the admins there pound anyone who disagrees with them into the ground by using the "rules" and the senior staff arbitarily make secret decisions w/o any oversight. so i don't trust wikianything any more.

    speak the wikitruth! http://www.wikitruth.info/ [wikitruth.info]
    • by Colin Smith (2679)
      This differs from any other form of publication?

       
      • what other form of publication allows editing by anyone in the world, anonymously?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rtb61 (674572)
          Pay a lot of people enough (not necessarily all that much) and they will any write kind of crap you like and swear that every word is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, in any kind of public forum you choose.

          Hell, they are a lot of people who will do it for free just to get their 15 minutes of fame.

          The first thing I do to try a validate what is and is not the truth is search for vested interests (who paid whom and whether they are continuing to do so).

          I have sadly found that the greater the am

          • by rifter (147452)

            basically free tends to be a far better source of truthiness.

            But since truthiness means "truthy not facty" truthiness != accuracy. sadly this appears to be indeed the case in free publications. People are more free to speak their "truth" but don't necessarily check their facts.

        • by phaggood (690955)
          Haven't the NYT and WSJ printed "news articles" that were anonymously written (or had $ and content) supplied by the gov & industry? Doesn't seem too different.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Colin Smith (2679)
          Do you know who edits your text books? I mean, there's a name, but how do you know they're competent, unbiased? How do you even know the name is real? Wikipedia is no different, the veracity of information you receive fom any source should be questioned. The difference with wikis is that this particular problem is evident rather than hidden.

           
          • generally people in the textbook industry have to at least have some kind of quality in their product. they are, after all, selling textbooks.

            wikipedia has no quality control. someone who has never heard of marine biology can edit the entry on the octopus because they feel like it.

            i don't even see any basis for comparison.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Colin Smith (2679)

              generally people in the textbook industry have to at least have some kind of quality in their product. they are, after all, selling textbooks.

              Really. And you personally have evidence that all sold textbooks are accurate? Ford sold the Pinto, a car which exploded if you looked at it wrong, the Mercedes E class has about 30% of them go wrong despite being a "quality" car, far behind much cheaper Hondas. Tell me again about the price of something and it's quality.

              someone who has never heard of marine biology c

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by HuguesT (84078)
              Wikipedia works on the principle that sociopaths are few.

              Anyone can edit the marine biology to put random stuff in it, but chances are the main author(s) will notice and rectify it quickly. This gets old quickly for would-be defacers. At the same time quite a few people working in marine biology might contribute to the page and correct errors.

              In the textbook industry, there is some kind of quality control but it's done by a tiny panel of about one or two people. Usually textbooks are written by between 1 an
              • by himself (66589)
                HughesT wrote:
                >
                > Wikipedia works on the principle that sociopaths are few.
                >
                      Few, yes, but very, very dedicated...
                • by HuguesT (84078)
                  > Few, yes, but very, very dedicated...

                  A big deal is made of this but so far wikipedia has massive amounts of useful information and only a little deliberately misleading junk.

                  I'd say the evidence is on the side of the good guys, by a long shot.
    • by mazarin5 (309432)
      I can't wait to see the quality of the biology textbook when it gets to evolution!
    • Someone got their article deleted :)
  • wikibooks - 2003 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:45AM (#16051063)
    Wiki based educational books on just about everything.

    http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page [wikibooks.org]
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Since textbooks is about being sources for teaching things, it's a bit unsettling that all those books rely on the good will of their contributors and detecting vandals in time, with no special means to ensure what's seen is accurate. I think it's even more important here than in Wikipedia, because the only reason to go to Wikibooks is to actively study subjects, not glance over info in articles.

      I think it's about time Wikipedia as well as Wikibooks implements that idea I heard a while ago, that there are t
  • Too early to say (Score:4, Informative)

    by arun_s (877518) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:47AM (#16051066) Homepage Journal
    While the idea is interesting, the project is still in its early stages (only 3 books are available, 2 are incomplete).
    Wikibooks [wikibooks.org] has progressed farther, but as TFA notes, this one operates on slightly stricter policies that might be useful for academic books.
  • by interiot (50685) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @07:47AM (#16051068) Homepage
    Why not join forces with Wikibooks [wikipedia.org] or Wikiversity [wikipedia.org]? Though as long as GlobalText is licensed in GFDL (they don't seem to say anywhere on their site?), then the projects will help each other out anyway.
    • by ronanbear (924575)
      He wants to maintain editorial control by academics. To be honest I see a lot of scope for wikibooks as a method for making textbooks as with the quality of some articles in wikipedia it would almost be possible to make a textbook by making an index of select articles.

      The problem with this project is the requirement of total academic oversight to do even minor edits. It's gonna make a lot of work. It would be nice to have a method to have externally selected expert administrators to supervise the editing

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by maxwell demon (590494)
        But what about starting the work on Wikibooks, and then after there's enough material, make an "academic version" where the academics go over the whole text, correct any mistakes there may be, and (besides adding those improvements on Wikibooks) publish that separately (which they of course are allowed to do under the GFDL). The separate version would have the advantage of stability, and you could be sure that academics have approved all of it. I think this way you would get the best of both worlds.
    • by lanfor (644610)

      Why people insist on using GFDL? There are projects which are doing just fine with publishing the content under one of CC licenses (WikiTravel [wikitravel.org]) or even putting the content into public domain (Hikipedia [hikipedia.com]).

      Lukasz
    • If they wanted that they would have done so. The project owners know about Wikibooks - in fact there first book is hosted at Wikibooks. They just plainly don't want to or they belive there own project is better.

      Martin
  • License (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ed Thomson (704721)
    The project will create open content electronic textbooks that will be freely available from a Web site. Distribution will also be possible via paper, CD, or DVD. Our goal initially is to focus on content development and Web distribution, and we will work with relevant authorities to facilitate dissemination by other means when bandwidth is unavailable or inadequate.

    The major difference between this project and wikibooks is the licensing. The Global Text Project looks like all the content will be given
  • Editorial POV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer.hotmail@com> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @08:13AM (#16051152)
    As a part time tech prof, I believe this to be a worthwhile endeavor. My early reservation, however, is regarding the editorial framework. If each chapter has a different editor, it may be difficult to develop a common voice for the entire WikiText. Also, single editors (vs. an editorial review team with a chief editor) would limit the editorial perspective, increasing the liklihood that the materials would convey the editor's personal biases to a greater degree (it's inevitable for any work, but most in the academic world are not reviewed by a single set of eyes). This latter concern would be somewhat mitigated by the Wiki format, since regular revisions may be suggested, but that leads me to one final concern...

    Unless the WikiTexts are printed for use, or updated on a limited schedule, there is the possibility that students may study different versions, making assessment (based on assigned reading) more difficult. [I would hope the content would not change to such a degree as to invalidate previous versions, but it is a possibility.]

    I will watch expectantly (and hopefully contribute) as this develops...
    • When you read a lot of books in a field or get pointed in the direction of 'works' you need to get a feel for the foibles, leanings and reliability of emphasis of different authors. "Bloggs tends to be dismissive of foo but is just the author to read if you want practical examples." "Smith repeats a lot of stuff without sufficient checking but at least you get to discover the sources." It is these characteristics of authors (or publishers) that will be lost in a hotch-potch.
  • Moo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chacham (981) * on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @08:19AM (#16051168) Homepage Journal
    Class, wait a momnet, as i revert your textbooks to the previous edit...
  • Loxodonta Africana: A Natural History.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @08:56AM (#16051350) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to be the one to doodle futuristic cars in all the margins.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @09:13AM (#16051462)
    I would hope that this wiki would have tools to let a teacher "lock-in" a version of the text for use during the term. It would be frustrating to discover that midway through the term that the wiki changed material in some chapter -- adding material the teacher had not plan to cover or removing material that they had. I could even see some teachers preferring to retain a particular version of the text for a couple of years if they had invested heavily in teaching plans that were specific to that version.

    The ultimate tool would let teachers mix and match chapters -- picking different versions from different years to suit their tastes.

    The point is that once a wiki transitions from casual/random access (e.g. wikipedia) to one of methodical use, then the user needs more say in versions or some way to retain their favored version.
  • How will they support homework and test questions whose answers are provided to the teacher but not the students?


    Anyways, I hope this provides some good content for loading up on the "one laptop per child" project.

  • In the long run... (Score:3, Informative)

    by God of Lemmings (455435) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @10:04AM (#16051802)
    I think that this could produce textbooks that have content not directly influenced by governments, religions, and corporations. There is likely to be some level of resistance in certain places depending on the subject, but the overall result should be positive.
  • by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @10:04AM (#16051806) Homepage
    From the article: 'The Global Text Project will work a bit differently from most wikis. Each chapter of each book will be overseen by an academic with knowledge of that field.

    This is excellent.

    Free knowledge written by experts. Sweet.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dayhiker (1000797)
      But the experts have to participate. Professors generally review textbooks for money or academic credit. Plus, folks in academia do not like wiki's in the first place, and will not give scholarly credit for promotions/tenure for this work (too bad, it is worthwhile). It seems to me full online textbooks written by a small group of professors or experts seems more likely to reverse the high cost of textbooks. There is a good start at www.textbookrevolution.org with this idea.
      • by skinfaxi (212627)
        www.textbookrevolution.org is just a bunch of links to other places, like about.com [which is mostly a bunch of links to other places...]
  • by dintech (998802) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @10:14AM (#16051890)
    1) Do homework without reading textbook 2) Change wiki 3) Hand in 'correct' homework 4) ??? 5) Profit
  • 1.Tap into all the chapters in all the textbooks
    2.Edit them
    3.???
    4.Commission!?!
    5.*reads fineprint*
    6. :(
  • Something like an encyclopedia can tolerate a certain uneveness among multiple authors because individual essays stand alone and are not that long. A course-book needs more coherence provided by an small number number of authors and an overseeing architect.
  • by autophile (640621) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:23AM (#16052553)
    The number of integrals in Green's Theorem has tripled over the past year.

    --Rob

  • It's about time that someone comes up with this idea. I am sick and tired of the price gouging that goes on in the textbook industry. There is no excuse for a math book to cost $100 new, $90 used.

    Once, I took an accounting course. All the students were angry that the textbook cost nearly $200. So the publisher actually sent a representative to our class to explain to us why it's ok that the book costs so much. He said that unlike New York Times bestsellers, which are printed in quantities of millions and
    • by loraksus (171574)
      Once, I took an accounting course. All the students were angry that the textbook cost nearly $200. So the publisher actually sent a representative to our class to explain to us why it's ok that the book costs so much. He said that unlike New York Times bestsellers, which are printed in quantities of millions and therefore enjoy reasonable prices due to economies of scale, college textbooks are printed in small quantities and therefore have to cover a larger chunk of the non-recurring expenses, such as the w
  • "A new initiative spearheaded by a University of Georgia professor aims to produce a library of 1,000 wiki textbooks by tapping the collaborative power of wiki. Inspiration for the project came from a computer science course that wrote its own textbook on XML"

    A very cool idea in principle, but if the XML book they've done is typical, they should stop now. Just for grins, I opened to a subject I know quite well, which is XML and Schemas. There we find [wikibooks.org]:

    "Entities are basically the objects a Schema is cr

    • The "market-leading" operating systems book I'm using this semester claims that "open source" means that the code base is "in the public domain," and that Java has no concept of global data "because it is a purely object-oriented language". As a bonus, there are numerous spelling and grammatical errors, and a couple of really bizarre throwaway lines about the uselessness of government and lawyers.

      Some textbooks gain a reputation for being stunningly good, while others gain a reputation for being awful. I
      • by TwobyTwo (588727)

        An Onerous Coward replied to me:

        > Some textbooks gain a reputation for being stunningly good, while others
        > gain a reputation for being awful. I think that once the dust settles
        > and wiki-enabled textbooks are recognized as a valid alternative,
        > we'll end up with the same situation.

        Good point.

        > I think the worst part of this whole discussion has been the implicit assumption
        > that 'wikified' means 'zero control over what the book says.'The people
        > running the project can still decide thi

  • This sounds like a good effort. Another similar effort is GELC (Global Education Learning Community) [java.net], which is an effort led by Sun Microsystems founder Scot McNealy to provide textbooks and software for free online using the open source model. Here's an article on GELC [forbes.com].

    Perhaps these two efforts coloborate.

  • I think the collaborative textbook idea is excellent, but I think a strong effort should be made to create basic high school texts before tackling college and graduate level material. School budgets in this country are stretched very thin and every book they don't have to buy is money that can be used for other things. Also, we need to do something to save our kids' backs. Last week I witnessed my 14 year old nephew heading off to school with twenty pounds of books in his backpack. At the end of the day
  • I was listening to a guy on TV who had just taken his daughter to college last week, and had to pay $150 to buy her a math textbook. I had no idea that text prices had gotten that high. He also said that the publishers keep bringing out new editions every 2-3 years (how much changes about calculus in that amount of time?) so that used-book sales don't destroy their profits. I don't know how it is at other universities, but the one I attended had a monopoly on text sales thru the on-campus store, so it profi
  • by Natif (1000913)
    This is a brilliant concept in the making. Unfortunately, the bad may outweigh the good eventually. It seems to me that the idea is good, the execution = bad. This could take anywhere from a few years to a few decades. I do not specifically know how they plan on compiling all of it and making the way in which the material is presented fluid - even if there is an "editor" (who, by all means, must be a genius; or God) to oversee the end result.

    Well, besides that, I think it will be interesting to see what hap
    • by wandlero (1000587)
      It could be quite simple - let the students do it.

      In almost every class, some students have a vast knowledge in many areas, and excel at the subject, some with spare time too, and can probably explain it on a much more understandable level to fellow students.

      An assignment for a group of 10 studnets to compile, edit, and submit a finished chapter to the professor as a final project in a class of 200+ calc students should produce a pretty quick, relatively readable, and usable book in one semester. A review
      • by Natif (1000913)
        You are completely right. I know the effects of this are going to change the way students think about learning and anticipating being responsible for what they learn.

        I hope that they apply this method with music theory (like post-tonal analysis, orchestration, etc) and other complex musical subjects! That would be the biggest aid to any music faculty.

        Calculus - definitely!
  • If they can work out the licensing issues, they could start with the lecture notes from the MIT OpenCourseWare project. The MIT OCW lecture notes need detail but they are a good start. There is probably lecture notes from other colleges too.

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