Day: October 14, 2014

Open-Source Textbooks as Supplemental Course Resources

by Mike Meyer, Director of William G. Jackson CTL

No matter which textbook I use, I always seem to hear from a subset of students that the book just doesn’t make sense to them.

The availability of peer-reviewed, open-source introductory textbooks for a variety of fields has provided an easy alternative for these students. Openstax College is one source of vetted, free and editable college-level texts. The physics text I’ve started using allows me to link to specific topics or sections for supplemental (or alternative) reading. Someone teaching an advanced course could also use these texts for review of foundational topics.

The open-source text movement is widespread, but still dispersed. A number of other sites like the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library have a broader collection that has been less vetted. Google searches may also turn up open-source texts by individuals who haven’t yet found a central distribution point. For texts that have, some companies have even begun building relatively low-cost online problem engines and other resources.

If you’d like to talk more about open-source textbooks share other teaching resources you’ve found, email or feel free to stop by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219.