An engaging article on open education resources was recently tweeted by Google CEO Eric Schmidt – in it the authors explore the burden that the rising cost of textbooks have placed on students, the ways it hinders their learning and the extent – or lack thereof – that the open-access movement has focused on rectifying this.
Expensive, underutilized textbooks often build a barrier between both the instructor and students. The students begrudge the expectation that they purchase a pricy text that feels more a boondoggle than essential resourceand the students and the educational success, with many students purchasing older versions of the texts to save money or deciding to not purchase one at all.
As the article notes, many STEM texts are predominantly composed of public research, but nonetheless carry price-tags of $250 dollars or more. Similarly, legal textbooks, or ‘casebooks,’ being composed almost entirely of public materials has led H2O to focus on them: as much of the text is already public domain but nonetheless published in texts costing $150 or more, incorporating them into an open, flexible digital platform was a foregone conclusion.