Archive for the ‘Open Education’ Category


Students Point the Way: Use Google to Replace Textbooks

In Malartoo Rationale,Open Education,Open Minds vs. Closed Content,Texts & Publishing on February 16, 2011 by Jim Luke Tagged: , ,

Student Research: Can Googling Replace $168 Intro to Psych Textbook?

  • By Dian Schaffhauser

Students are taking the battle against high-priced textbooks into their own hands. This week, 11 University of Cincinnati seniors in the psychology program presented at an Educause event a comparison of the content of traditional college texts, one of which costs $168, to content they found for free on the Web.The research effort was undertaken as part of the Digital Bookshelf Project, the University System of Ohio’s effort to make textbooks more affordable.

For the latest research project, which took place in fall 2010, the students compared the value and educational quality of two current textbooks with the draft of a new textbook they found free online, along with what they could find through online search engines. They worked under the guidance of Charles Ginn, an associate professor of psychology at U Cincinnati.

“For our generation raised on the Internet, online searches for class materials often replace purchasing the textbook,” said Libby Cates, one of the student researchers. “So, our primary research question was: Can students depend on what they find when they Google key terms? Secondly, we wanted to see what benefits are delivered through textbooks in their various forms.”

They found that materials from Wikipedia were accurate and thorough, though “perhaps excessively thorough for an introductory course,” they reported. “These summaries were equal to or exceeded those found in the two textbooks.”

Students also found that the free e-textbook and lower-cost print materials all provided similar learning support. They recommended a combination of digital and print materials as being most supportive of student learning.

The Digital Bookshelf Project has brought together psychology departments across the state to offer students electronic textbook choices from major publishers. The goal of the project is to work with the publishers and university bookstores to provide students alternatives to standard texts.

The latest research follows on a project that investigated what format students would prefer for their text. For the 2010 academic year, 50,000 of Ohio’s 70,000 introductory psychology students have had a low-cost digital option available for the textbook of their instructor’s choice.



Open Textbooks/ Open Educational Resources

In Open Education on March 22, 2010 by Jim Luke Tagged:

I had a discussion the other day with a couple colleagues where the issue of textbook costs arose.  I am a huge advocate of open educational resources and open textbooks (see If You Believe in “Intellectual Property”, How Do You Teach Others? – Answer: you can’t). I also know from my consulting work in the 1990’s that there’s no real reason why textbooks should be as expensive as they are today.  Print-on-demand can bring the costs down dramatically.

So I thought I would add a few links to the blog for those interested in getting started investigating the idea:

Finally, I have new post at my economics blog about the Economic Alchemy: How to Raise Tuition but Lower Student Costs.  Also, I advise that people not confuse “online books” with “low-cost” or “open”.  Yes, “open textbooks” and newer low-cost books can be put online. But the “online books” being promoted by the major oligopoly publishers are NOT low-cost solutions.  In practice, they major publisher solutions like CourseSmart actually end up raising student costs.  For more about that, see my post on Online Books.

(this was cross-posted at