Saturday, January 26, 2008

Students for open access and open textbooks

Here are two student initiatives for openness worth checking out:

Open Students is a new blog by Gavin Baker on open access, for students. (Hat tip to Peter Suber on Open Access News).

Nicole Allen has alerted me to the efforts of her group, studentPIRGs, to Make Textbooks Affordable. Faculty, please consider joining me and others in signing the Open Textbooks Statement of Intent. Naturally, as an open access advocate, I look for reading materials that are openly accessible for my students, although I also order print copies - a suggestion from a former student.

I think Nicole & her group are on to something; one of my most popular blogposts over the years is Open Access Textbooks. This is an interesting phenomenon; textbooks are not at all the focus of the open access movement, yet this movement to open textbooks seems to have a life of its own.

Aside from making education more affordable, here is another really good reason to think about open textbooks: if students are having a hard time paying for one text per subject, they certainly won't be purchasing more than one! But picture the student learning subjects such as math, physics, or chemistry. If it's not easy to understand the text, wouldn't it be great to have a whole range of alternatives to turn to? This makes sense for any subject, of course, it just might be a little easier to see the need with these sciences.