Posted by Marty, a resident of another community, on Jan 23, 2009 at 12:55 pm
I admire the efforts of the CC Consortium for Open Educational Resources. Any effort to significantly reduce the cost of education should be applauded. The two major obstacles that face this online textbooks effort are: publishers and freedom of curriculum choices so tightly guarded by professors.
I attended a School District Board meeting last month where a 1 1/2 year long study about reducing the cost of textbooks for students, and one of the concessions of the professors was to extend the use of textbooks from 2 semesters to 4 semesters. Not very long, especially if the books are merely updated releases of the same books,
The real battle will be with publishers and all the middle organizations that profit from textbook distribution. Colleges are even dependent on bookstore profits to subsidize budgets.
I introduced a solution that would reduce textbooks to a minimum for the students and still provide the same textbook revenue to the bookstores and college. The proposal was brushed aside because it disrupted the way things were being done.
I support this effort but it needs visionaries that effect change on a much larger scale.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 5:15 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
The hundred dollar laptop is inevitable and the day of the child backpacking half her weight to school is over. My last notebook computer purchase was $149 and it fits in a large pocket.. Steve Jobs demonstrated with i Tunes that copyright material can be profitably distributed for under a dollar, so textbook authors should welcome a new age, and book printers should find a new field. With the library of Congress on a thumb drive and Wiki for relevance, even the trek to school may be obsolete.
Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of another community, on Aug 16, 2009 at 8:46 pm
The textbook that Dean and Illowsky authored used to cost $71.42. The cost of the textbook changed only after Karl Schaffer, an instructor in De Anza math department, informed the campus community of the large amount of money these authors were making:
The price was later reduced to $31.98 (a reduction of over 50%!) after Karl's letter was published. It seems to me that the authors lowered the price of the textbook because they were eager to dispute Karl's claim that they were trying to making money off the students. Instead of trying to make a small profit off a $32 textbook, the authors sold the rights to a philanthropist who must obviously know nothing about statistics. I have closely examined 12 introductory statistics textbooks and the Dean/Illowsky textbook is by far the worst. If you want to see what I am talking about, here is the textbook:
This awful textbook is used by the majority of students at De Anza! Until the textbook was made available for free, only a handful of instructors outside of De Anza (mostly friends of Illowsky) used the textbook in the 10+ plus years since the book was first published. How is it possible that such a horrible textbook is being used by so many De Anza College students? There are two reasons. One reason is that Barbara Illowksy is close friends with Martha Kanter, a former president of De Anza College who has a very limited background in statistics. The other reason is that the vast majority of instructors who use the textbook at De Anza are either part-time or were not tenured when Barbara and Susan approached them to use her textbook. I am happy that the authors made their textbook available online because now the entire world can see some of the crap that De Anza instructors/students have to put up with.
On a side note, I doubt that many popular textbooks will be made available for free in near future. If a textbook is really good, many teachers will use it for their classes and the authors will make a lot of money. What's the incentive for an author to make a popular textbook available for free?