How Sinclair Uses Open Source Textbooks

   Textbooks are an integral part to the modern education system. They provide reliable references and structured learning among many other advantages, which makes them an extremely useful tool for educators.

   Although textbooks have proven to be a useful tool for both students and teachers, some find them to be a headache.

   Traditional textbooks can be very expensive, many being over 100 dollars. This can be a struggle for many students as they are already paying a pretty penny just to attend school.

   Traditional textbooks are also more of a one size fits all solution for learning. Since the resources are put together by a third party, the educator has little control over what students have access to in the book.

   There may be less information about certain topics or more than they would like to cover.

   What could possibly answer the issues created by this tried and true media?

   A potential solution that many campuses, including Sinclair, are beginning to try are called open source textbooks.

   Open source is a word that is heard often with software, meaning that it can be openly modified and distributed without many limits while also being free of charge.

   This is almost identical to the way that open source textbooks work.

   Open source textbooks are free for use and modification by educators, which solves many of the problems faced by students and teachers alike.

   Students are able to access the content free of charge, which enables a broader range of people to be able to access information.

   Educators are also able to modify the content to fit their course specifically. As new resources are available for a specific topic, the material can be changed immediately to reflect it.

   With all of the positive parts of open source textbooks, there can also be some drawbacks and concerns.

   One of these concerns is whether or not a resource is peer reviewed and accurate. In a resource where anyone may openly edit and distribute, this is an inherent issue.

   Another concern is the accessibility by all students. Some students may not have internet or a device capable of accessing it all together. Many schools allow students access to on campus computers and internet, which may develop even more as the medium develops.

   Some professors at Sinclair use Open Educational Resources (OER) in their classes.

   According to Gregory Deye, M.Ed., Sinclair began exploring the use of OER in 2009 to reduce textbook costs.

   There are also over 25 courses that use some form of OER to replace textbooks.

   Also according to Gregory, for the 2017-2018 academic year, students filled 25,747 seats in those courses resulting in an approximate savings of $2,574,700 for those students.

   So far, many students and educators alike have found open source textbooks to be a useful addition to the tools they use in their education.

   Affordability and the ease of adapting content to the course are two of the advantages to this relatively new media.

   Although accuracy and accessibility are a concern, this is a growing type of content in the classroom which will be used more and more by educators which will bring additional attention and progress to the medium.

Sean Kahle
Staff Writer

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