Archive for the ‘Free Textbook Initiative’ Category

Free textbooks improve learning and the classroom experience

We’ve established that the economic market for textbook is fundamentally broken. But even without that point, there are still many excellent reasons to switch over to a free textbook. First and foremost, using an expensive resource disconnects students. The Expensive Textbook Model is presented below:

The problems that teachers encounter when using expensive textbooks can almost entirely be mitigated by using free resources. Students get immediate and perpetual access to the course textbook, including later editions. Free textbooks also encourage students to focus on learning, not whether they can afford to purchase the textbook.

While this isn’t a novel finding, we encourage you to test it out! Print out this survey for your students.

– David


Why the textbook marketplace is fundamentally broken

I stopped by Pearson Education’s booth at a recent statistical conference (JSM) and asked for the prices of their introductory statistics textbooks. They didn’t have such information on hand and seemed surprised that I asked. That was disappointing, and, with such a large organization, it was difficult to believe the lack of pricing information was an accident.

The free market works when supply and demand are in balance. Suppliers develop or manufacture materials and products, and they choose prices so that their products compete for the attention and dollars of consumers. It’s a straightforward system, and it is often incredibly effective. But this is not the way the market works for course textbooks.

Students do not choose which textbook offers the best resource for the price. Rather, teachers do. Market fundamentals do not function when the end-consumer does not choose which particular item they purchase. This doesn’t mean teachers should switch to a model where each student selects her own textbook (that would make for an unmanageable course), but it does mean teachers should pay close attention to price to help rebalance the market.

– David

10,000 textbooks to save $1,000,000 over 2 years

Attention all introductory statistics teachers!

You are invited to participate in the Free Textbook Initiative, a challenge to introductory statistics instructors to save students $1,000,000 by using 10,000 free textbooks before August 2014. This initiative was launched at the Joint Statistical Meetings. Imagine yourself giving a $100 scholarship to each of your students; that’s what you do when you adopt a free textbook. To take part in the effort:

  1. Search: find a free textbook you like. Three textbooks to consider: Two of these books have inexpensive paper copies available. More free textbooks:
  2. Evaluate: ask your students to compare your current textbook to the free textbook of your choosing next term.
  3. Adopt: if student feedback is positive and you are comfortable with the textbook, adopt! If the free textbook isn’t right for you or your students, consider testing a different free textbook.

With free resources, you can “try before you buy”, even if you aren’t paying for anything.

If you are ready to join the movement, the OpenIntro team would love to hear about your and your students’ experiences. OpenIntro is hosting this initiative as a way to both assist and recognize instructors who want to lower financial barriers to education. We’re also here to provide instructor support. To help keep us connected and track your contribution towards the $1,000,000 goal, sign up at