More on textbooks going online, cheap, and sometimes with wiki-like content

More info in today’s New York Times about the trend away from students buying textbooks at incredibly high prices. The marketplace was destined to crumble, and today’s story provides this quote:

A broader effort to publish free textbooks is called Connexions (, which was the brainchild of Richard G. Baraniuk, an engineering professor at Rice University, which has received $6 million from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. In addition to being a repository for textbooks covering a wide range of subjects and educational levels, its ethic is taken from the digital music world, he said — rip, burn and mash.

Unlike other projects that share course materials, notably OpenCourseWare at M.I.T., Connexions uses broader Creative Commons license allowing students and teachers to rewrite and edit material as long as the originator is credited. Teachers put up material, called “modules,” and then mix and match their work with others’ to create a collection of material for students. “We are changing textbook publishing from a pipeline to an ecosystem,” he said.

The article is Don’t Buy That Textbook, Download It Free by NOAM COHEN.

The link is this:

Seems that once all the individual new-style, cheap/free/open source publishing efforts link up, we’ll soon be at a critical mass. Wonder if anyone is playing matchmaker? And where will be the revenues to satisfy all those who have and are investing tens of millions into the various new style textbook initiatives?

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