Sunday, September 30, 2012

Adopt One Open Textbook and Make a Difference

The passage of the Open Textbook bills in California is a significant development in the open educational resources (OER) space. We have been working on getting the word out as to the benefits of Open Textbooks for some time now. However, when the largest higher education system in the US takes action like this – folks will take notice. In fact, I think this news could be the “tipping point” for an Open Textbook revolution.
Consider the $172 cost of the new edition of one of the top selling algebra books for one of our highest enrolled mathematics courses - Algebra. Now consider that I have over 40 students in each of my 3 sections - that is over 120 students:

$172 x 120 students = $20,640

This is a lot of money for one instructor's one semester of Algebra - now scale this up to the over 340,000 Algebra students in California and you start to see the significant amounts of money involved here!  Here is an info-graphic made by the 20 Million Minds Foundation and an open textbook savings calculator. I like to say that adopting an open textbook is like your very own local stimulus plan! 
Now some might argue that the top selling textbook is better for any number of reasons... and yes it might be.  But we have to start considering student cost in our decisions to adopt.  

Is it $172 better?
Is it $100 better?
Is it $50 better?
Is it $25 better?
Can I supplement any shortcomings?
Do I have the time to make change?

I happen to think the 21st century college instructor will use a LMS to aggregate OER as a means to present a course that leverages his/her expertise. High quality modular Open Textbooks and resources are the key. Modifying open textbooks, collecting good content and building courses is time consuming. However, the benefits in course relevance and cost far outweigh any upfront effort. New editions are totally up to you and not a product of the bottom line!
We need to take the “all of the above” approach to addressing the soaring costs of education. These bills may not solve the cost issue overnight - but they sure bring the $200 textbook problem into laser focus. I truly hope the use of Open Textbooks tips - where more faculty and students become aware of their viability. 

Instructor Challenge: Start by adopting one open textbook for next semester. They are hard to find, modify, and supplement.  Some links are provided below that might help. Join the OER community:

Students Challenge: Start by searching out open textbooks and send the links to your instructors.  Sign the petition. This will be your legacy to those who come after you.

College Open Textbooks:


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Algebra Video Help

Our collection of Algebra videos to accompany our Elementary and Intermediate Algebra textbooks is complete.  So far we have over 60,000 views with a definite uptrend.  From the many comments, it is clear that the short and to the point approach is much appreciated!

These videos are embedded in the FREE to read online textbooks. In addition, you can choose the appropriate course below and then visually search the problems. Click on a problem that seems similar and you will be redirected to a video solution on YouTube.

If a video helps you... please comment or push the like button.  If you are an instructor, feel free to copy-and-paste these links into your LMS.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Intermediate Algebra Textbook

Dear Colleagues,

I am excited to announce that Flat World Knowledge (FWK) has just published a new textbook, Intermediate Algebra.

In order to combat soaring textbook prices, I have written this textbook in a modular fashion to maximize its effectiveness as an open educational resource. It is available under a creative commons license, has been thoroughly peer-reviewed, and is customizable using the “Make It Your Own” MIYO system. This textbook is the second part of a two-part course in Algebra. It builds on the skills learned in Elementary Algebra and blends the traditional and graphical approaches to the subject.

Used as a standalone textbook, Intermediate Algebra offers plenty of review as well as something new to engage the student in each chapter. With robust and diverse exercise sets, students have the opportunity to solve plenty of practice problems.  In addition, students might appreciate the embedded video examples.

I am happy to be a part of the solution to the current rising costs associated with one of our essential developmental math courses.  Compare this textbook to other open source algebra projects and you will find that FWK did a great job. The free to read online version makes use of MathJax and images to present the material where the Firefox web browser is recommended.  In addition, the e-textbook and printed versions are available for purchase through the Flat World Knowledge website.

Please feel free to distribute this link to your students and colleagues.  I truly believe that it will be a valuable resource.  Also, feel free to email me with any suggestions or ideas.

Thank You,
John Redden, Professor of Mathematics

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Intermediate Algebra Sample Test Questions

I have added two worksheets that are to accompany the free to read online Intermediate Algebra textbook.

Remember that you can find a complete list of visually searchable videos that accompany these chapters by clicking the link below.

Instructors: You can find more worksheets by clicking the Intermediate Algebra Textbook link on this site. Please feel free to cut-and-paste anything you find here into your course.