Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Affordable, Relevant and Timely Texts?

Are you searching for an affordable, relevant and timely text for your college course? Why not assemble or write it yourself via open-access sources?

I have recently developed a number of multi-disciplinary courses and found that the traditional text-book choices were either non-existent or ridiculously convoluted.

Dr. Melanie Borrego, Associate Dean in Brandman's School of Arts and Sciences, offered a couple of web-based suggestions: Flat World Knowledge and Open Textbook.

Flat World Knowledge

Latest news:  "Flat World Knowledge texts are no longer free."  See this follow-up from the Chronicle of Higher Education: .

What follows is her brief commentary comparing the two. “Flat World Knowledge is still developing. It will need more content and support to make it really useful in all subjects. It's, however, a good fundamental idea because we can take chapters from one source, chapters from another, write some of our own material and reassemble it and post for student access.

There's also Open Textbook which I like even better. All of these books are peer-reviewed by experts in the field before being posted for use. They work on the same model as Flat World Knowledge, but have so far focused on texts for lower-division courses. They also have a hard-copy 'print by order' Lulu feature at a fairly reasonable cost.”

Let's not forget Professor Richard Baraniuk's and Rice University's leadership in the open-access textbook movement.

Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach. 
Connexions is a free and open space where teachers can learn and learners can teach.”

Richard Baraniuk

Richard Baraniuk explains the vision behind Connexions, his open-source, online education system which cuts out the textbook, allowing teachers to share and modify units of course materials freely in the following TED presentation.

Below is a link to Connexions at Rice University where I have posted a number of units from my own HUMU 345 course: [NOTE: If you are interested in reviewing them, just do a search for my name “John Freed.”]

And last but certainly not least is an invaluable compendium of university-level, open-access resources compiled by the Hilton C. Buley Library at Southern Connecticut State University.

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

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