Open Textbooks and Student Success

Cable Green
Cable Green (Photo: Jeffrey Beall)

The tirelessly brilliant and ubiquitous Cable Green sent out today’s announcement from Creative Commons about the U.S. PIRG Education Fund report called, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs and Demand Alternatives.” This report reinforces what the research is already showing – open textbooks can be a significant contributing factor to student success. The results we saw with projects like the Kaleidoscope Project was that students were actually doing better in courses that were using openly licensed, free textbooks. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the reasons at College of the Redwoods was that the faculty created textbooks were written for a particular student population to solve particular problems. The books actually addressed the needs of the community. You can still find articles out there about the so-called suspect quality of open education resources, but they are being written by folks who have not looked at what is out there now.  Articles like “The cost and quality of open textbooks: Perceptions of community college faculty and students” by TJ Bliss, John Hilton, David Wiley, and Kim Thanos go a long way to dispel those myths as does “A Preliminary Examination of the Cost Savings and Learning Impacts of Using Open Textbooks in Middle and High School Science Classes,” by David Wiley, John Levi Hilton III, Shelley Ellington, and Tiffany Hall.

Commercial textbooks have their own myths to deal with – like whether or not they are reliable!

This is a very dynamic time to be involved in open textbooks!

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