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Free Textbooks Shaking Up Higher Education

September 2, 2012

Though   paying up for teaching and housing eat additional cash, textbook costs are among the most groan-inducing costs suffered by college kids.  With tools like Amazon and, only the least inventive of first years are blowing $200 for a fresh textbook nowadays.  But a new kind of textbook is promising to interrupt a $4.5 bln industry which has so far evaded the media upheavals experienced in music, pictures and trade publications.  Open-source textbooks, free for scholars to utilize and for professors to change, are being developed by more firms and adopted in more lecture rooms.  They may work side by side with the increase in free internet courses to radically change the way in which we viewand pay forhigher education.  “There’s a problem of access in this country,” announces Richard Baraniuk, a PC and electric engineering lecturer at Rice  College .  He’s talking about the quickly rising cost of varsity education, which includes not only tutoring, but also accomodation, class costs and, yes, textbooks.  Guesses  of how much scholars spend on textbooks in a fixed year vary significantly, but most colleges’ financial support web sites peg the price at roughly $1,000.

Baraniuk thinks that cost should be reduced to nil. He has been part of the open-source academic movement since 1999, when he grew exasperated with the book he was using in his electric engineering class.  He considered creating a book himself but had an epiphany as he learned more on the open-source operating software Linux.  “I spotted that we could take the same ideasnamely, modularityand open-sourcedness, making it free and remixableand apply that not solely to software but to textbooks.”.


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