Thursday, February 19, 2009

Textbook revolution

There is a vast amount of free learning resources available on the net today; video podcasts on iTunes U, whole courses from MIT Open CourseWare, books at Wikibooks and photos, films and diagrams at Wikimedia Commons. All sites encourage sharing and collaboration in order to make good educational material available to all. I've now discovered a wikisite called Textbook revolution which is run by students and aims at at offering free course literature as e-books. No copyright issues either as authors freely make their material available under Creative Commons or as public domain.

I wonder if there are any studies being done about how all this is actually being used on courses. Is it used as supplementary material, as recommended study material or does anyone put together whole course modules full of on-line material? Most people take pride in producing their own material and have an in-built unease about borrowing from others. In addition, there are many who are uneasy about e-books and the problem of reading long texts on a screen. I don't see so many colleagues who make use of all these free resources but awareness is definitely growing. It would be interesting to see if there are any patterns on who is using most e-resources, which subject areas, types of institution, country etc.

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