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Education Books Open Source

University of Missouri To Use Open Source And Other Cheaper Alternatives For General Education Textbook (columbiatribune.com) 58

Rudi Keller, writing for Columbia Tribune: The University of Missouri will move quickly to use open source and other cheaper alternatives for general education textbooks, building on initiatives already in place, system President Mun Choi said. At an event with members of the Board of Curators, administrators, lawmakers, faculty from all four campuses and student representatives, Choi said the intent is to save money for students while providing up-to-date materials. Faculty, including graduate assistants, will be eligible for incentive payments of $1,000 to $10,000 for preparing and adopting materials that save students money, Choi said. Textbooks are sometimes overlooked as a contributor to the cost of attending college, Choi said. "We want to provide our students an opportunity to have a low cost, high-quality alternative," Choi said.
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University of Missouri To Use Open Source And Other Cheaper Alternatives For General Education Textbook

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 22, 2017 @12:07PM (#54668631)
    Physics 101, Chemistry 101, Calculus 101, etc. can basically be taught the same way forever (unless we come up with some dazzling new educational theories that change how to present idea to students). The material is not changing and it may never change at the introductory level. These are prime candidates for an open source or CC textbook that anyone can use. No good reason at all to buy from publishers who roll out a 'new edition' every couple years that basically just corrects errata or (more likely) just refreshes the pictures.
    • Those are already all 'weed outs'. Let's just make sure that the open source book is GOOD.

      We could just teach Physics and Calc out of 'Principia'...but the fail rate would skyrocket.

      • Let's just make sure that the open source book is GOOD.

        It does not have to be good it just has to be better than the books from the publishers. Many of these are of increasingly poor quality and, for physics, often have major omissions or simplifications to the point of being wrong. One of the worst examples is where a lot of books categorically state that resonance occurs exactly at the natural frequency of vibration for an oscillator and fake plots to show this over a wide range of damping.

        Sadly though the open source texts I have seen are even worse. Ope

        • Tacoma narrows was resonance. Destructive aeroelastic flutter is an _example_ of resonance. There is one dweeb making a name out this pedantic distinction and guarding the wiki article, while ignoring that the wiki article on flutter describes it as a resonant phenomenon. He should be ignored, it's an example of everything wrong with wikipedia.

          I've seen the god damn film, it was torquing in the second harmonic.

          • Destructive aeroelastic flutter is an _example_ of resonance.

            No it's not - there is no oscillating force driving the system at a particular frequency which is what always used to confuse me when I was a kid and we learnt it at school. While the results may look the same aeroelastic flutter is a self-excitation which is fundamentally different from a forced resonance. It's only a "pedantic distinction" in the same way that differentiating between mass and weight is a pedantic distinction. In most everyday situations in the Earth's approximately constant gravitational

      • Shit, my college waited until sophomore and junior year to have weed out classes in engineering. Assholes.
        • If you didn't take calc freshman year, you were unprepared for Engineering school. You should have had AP in HS.

    • by creimer ( 824291 )

      The story that my English instructor told me in the early 1990's was that the Reagan Administration in the 1987 tax reform decided to tax warehouses as a revenue enhancement. That forced publishers to stop printing a million copies of a textbook, store them in warehouses and sell them over time. If textbook prices go up from a smaller print run, blame Reagan.

      I've also heard that this story was made up by the teachers union to make Reagan look bad.

      • How would you even 'tax warehouses as revenue enhancement'? What does that even mean? Inventory? Depreciation? Writing off expired or obsolete? Warehouses don't generate revenue, sales do.

        It's just words pushed together by someone clueless...teachers are pretty clueless, so I'm guessing option B.

        • by creimer ( 824291 )

          How would you even 'tax warehouses as revenue enhancement'? What does that even mean? Inventory? Depreciation? Writing off expired or obsolete? Warehouses don't generate revenue, sales do.

          I'm not entirely sure. The 1987 tax reform closed a lot of loopholes that forced everyone to respond in different ways. A warehouse tax that makes it more expensive to store textbooks over time sounds plausible. I can't find a definitive answer either way on the Internet.

          A current example of a warehouse tax is being considered in Pennsylvania.

          http://mhlnews.com/warehousing/pennsylvania-s-proposed-warehouse-tax-start-trend [mhlnews.com]

          • That's charging sales tax on the fees that 3rd party warehouses charge...federal sales tax?

            'Tax warehouses as revenue enhancement' is just gobbledygook, 'reverse the polarity on the tachyon stream'.

            All taxes are 'revenue enhancement' to the government, so there's the 'it's just redundant, not stupid argument'.

            Warehouses don't generate revenue, unless you're a 3rd party warehouse company, in which case you've already been paying taxes on income.

      • by sycodon ( 149926 )

        What Bullshit.

        Anything in your warehouse is Inventory. Inventory has always been taxed.

        Your English instructor is teaching English for a reason. He's too much of a moron to run a business.

        • Anything in your warehouse is Inventory. Inventory has always been taxed.

          Yeah, when it leaves. That's called a sale. Perhaps it's named after sales tax?

      • 1. There's no way that storing years worth of textbooks would offset the cost reduction from increasing the print run. Particularly for the 101 books that sell a large number of copies.

        2. If you were storing the books, you could just as easily print and store them overseas to avoid that tax.

        3. The very same books are typically much cheaper in overseas markets where education is less expensive. For some, publishers even go out their way to make the text order different to maintain this markup, see for exampl

    • We make continuous strides in pedagogy. Newtonian physics is so much easier to learn when you make a minor edit on page 341, and use a different artist for 6 graphs scattered throughout the text. It's well worth buying a complete new set this year. /sarcasm.

  • E-books (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday June 22, 2017 @12:14PM (#54668677) Journal
    I've always thought that the perfect use for e-books is textbooks, especially since they can be yanked back and/or edited at will; whereas I hate them for that ability and how it's been sometimes abused when it comes to purchased literature (I prefer printed paper books, TYVM) textbooks are often updated, and textbooks are very often only good to the student for one semester, but can cost hundreds of dollars. An e-book version could eliminate all these problems, as well as the massive weight of carrying around a bunch of textbooks; students would just need a laptop (which they'd have anyway) or a tablet computer, or even just an e-book reader. E-book readers are inexpensive, and they could even be rented to students by the college bookstore. The e-book textbooks themselves could also be rented; you'd just pay for access for a given timespan. College bookstores would only really have to keep consumable materials in-stock, and could also be smaller. Win-win for everyone.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      I've always thought that the perfect use for e-books is textbooks, especially since they can be yanked back and/or edited at will; whereas I hate them for that ability and how it's been sometimes abused when it comes to purchased literature (I prefer printed paper books, TYVM) textbooks are often updated, and textbooks are very often only good to the student for one semester, but can cost hundreds of dollars. An e-book version could eliminate all these problems, as well as the massive weight of carrying aro

      • You can do pretty much all of those things with .pdf files, though. Why can't they then either use .pdf files, or make e-textbooks work like .pdf files? Doesn't sound hard to me.
    • I used an iPad and bought all my text books on Kindle. I even took notes on teh iPad. Now, what sucked was iPad styluses suck, basically like writing with a crayon. Maybe a $100 pencil works better but I'll never find out.

      Second, you can't RESELL useless textbooks. If my alma mater is serious and goes with cheap accessible textbooks/e-books that's a game changer.

  • This could have an interesting effect in the book and e-book market. Hopefully a good thing. Lots of books that are basically republished but identical material (especially in math), have been a a financial gouge for students.
  • Finally, a college who's textbooks don't cost $200 (used) and can be sold back for $50 at the end of the semester!
  • Several times per year I see these stories that yet another university is switching to some form of "open" textbooks, and readers are left to infer that "open" means "open source" (in this particular case, the OP and the article linked to both explicitly use the term "open source"). Typically, the text books in question are released under a Creative Commons (CC) license, but none of those CC licenses actually meet the requirements of the open-source definition. In particular none of the CC licenses requires

    • SNIP

      All I am complaining about is the misuse of the label "open source" to refer to free-of-charge books that are provided under a CC license, since CC licenses do not classify as being "open source".

      The phenomena you describe is not new. As technical terms that have specific meanings fall into the common lexicon they often get a broader, or take on a new, meaning that may conflict with the original usage. Mass media talks about computer viruses and make no distinction between trojans, browser hijacks, etc; and hacker has completely morphed from a badge of honor to something sinister. Those who use the phrases in the technical manner can complain all we want but in the end we're just pissing in the wind

      • The changing meanings of words happens outside of technical fields too. For example, today's meaning of the terms "gay" and "queer" is different to their meanings less than a century ago. However, the misrepresentation of "Creative Commons licenses are open source licenses" did not occur because of something akin to Chinese Whispers over the course of many years. Instead, the misrepresentation occurred at source: within the Creative Commons organisation.
      • in the end we're just pissing in the wind.

        Don't you mean pissing INTO the wind?
        If you are pissing downwind, you're doing the skit wrong.
        --
        It is not every question that deserves an answer. -- Publilius Syrus

  • Hire some experts to write text books under a creative commons licence that cover the curriculum, sell hard copies at cost and electronic copies free as .epubs, .pdfs etc.

    I really don't see much reason beyond special interests that schools or parents should be held to ransom by publishers for educational material.

    • by joelgrimes ( 130046 ) on Thursday June 22, 2017 @03:04PM (#54670049) Homepage

      Hire some experts to write text books under a creative commons licence

      Check [openstax.org]

      sell hard copies at cost

      Check [amazon.com]

      electronic copies free as .epubs, .pdfs

      Check [cnx.org]

      They have math, from pre-algebra to calculus plus statistics. Physics, chemistry, astronomy. biology, microbiology, economics, psychology, U.S. history

      There are quite a few efforts along the lines of what you are suggesting, but Openstax is my favorite because they are well funded (Gates Foundation and Hewlett Foundation, among others), they produce a consistent, high-quality product, they don't try to suck you into their ecosystem - they just write and give away the textbooks.

      The Open Textbook Network [umn.edu] is also very good, but they are more curators of all free textbooks and not so much producers.

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        I'm aware of books existing but it's mandating their use which is the issue. It has to come down from goverments - here is our curriculum, these books conform to the curriculum, the books are paid for and free to you (electronic form), students use an e-reader, tablet or hardcopy of the books.

        There is benefit to everyone except publishers.

    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      This is harder to do than it looks. But there are efforts to do that.
      Writing a good textbook takes years. It is at least a full time 1 year effort; maybe 2 or 3. Making it useful as an open source book is an even harder task. Someone needs to pay for the effort.
      In the US, NSF may be a good place to look for this kind of funding. I have been in contact with some program managers there to do just that. And they are receptive to the idea. So it is probably a matter of time.

  • Grew up about 30 miles from Columbia. MU has been a "big bully" for years. Whatever MU wanted, Columbia & Boone County would bend over backwards to get them whatever they wanted. Now, MU, because they pretty much let the leftist teachers & their minions the students, caused so many parents to either pull or say NO to allowing their kids to go to MU, to the tune of freshman enrollment is down upwards of 25%, MU is JUST NOW trying to stay within budget, because the state legislators about 40 miles
  • Everything the government uses or mandates the use of (i.e. tax software, research software such as that used at NASA, textbooks for public universities etc.) should all be open source.

    We, the taxpayers, are paying for it. The government works for us, not the other way around.

    Why open source? Because if the government mandates the use of a privately owned product then that's crony-ism and should be despised by everyone who loves freedom. For example, if they required the use of Apple products in order t
  • With the political shift of Missouri to a Republican slant, while Primary Public Education in Missouri will hit 'full funding' or come close to it in the state, (which triggers other interesting, and positive events to happen,) we have seen Higher Education take a major hit in funding. They've lost $150M across the state. The University of Missouri - Columbia, the 'bright and shining star' of the UM system, has been rocked with scandals that have caused the turnover of high-level potions in the preceding years, which has caused their attendance to plummet.

    With such a large loss in their budget from state funding, it's not surprising to see UM looking to not just cut, but slash costs in other areas. While not rocked by scandals, other Public Higher Education institutes are feeling the very same belt-tightening, such as the University of Central Missouri. "It used to be a college where a farm-boy could set a cow or two, and get a good education." That's a direct quote I've heard from more than one alumni, but it's far, far from the case any more.

    I suspect that states like Missouri, will struggle for the next few years, with Public Higher Education. It's becoming a necessity for entry-level jobs in our Knowledge Age (opposed to the Industrial Age), where Knowledge Workers have to have stronger skill sets. States and the US will struggle in this area until we figure out it needs to become easier and more reasonable for all High School graduates to be able to attend 4-year and trade schools to make themselves fully ready for the job market.

  • The high selling general "101" type textbooks subsidize other publications. If this is successful (there's not a great history around high quality open source textbooks because writing a text doesn't scratch the same itch and this looks like they are aiming the authoring role at people who generally have little experience writing textbooks, but lots writing academic papers) academic publishers are going to be less likely (and able) to publish the more advanced books that don't sell as well.

    If people were r

  • My offspring's math text book comes in two flavors. The online version and the dead tree version. Last week it was a frantic search to find the dead tree version to turn it in, so we weren't charged. She accesses the online version that has extra features that can't be implemented in dead trees with her school provided chrome book. Which survived numerous drops. My other daughter in 11th grade, never visited her locker more than once during the school year. No need to. Point is, the change over to e-

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