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RE: [seul-edu] open textbooks

At 10:49 AM 10/17/00 -0400, Chris Hedemark wrote:
>So how about cutting out the middleman?
>Publishers will *never* give in to an open documentation license if that
>kind of money is at stake.
>States who adopt texts at the state level should immediately see the
>benefits of copyleft textbooks, and subsidize the development of such.
>Methinks it would be cheaper for a state to subsidize the initial creation
>of a copyleft electronic textbook than to pay publishers for each and every

I think you are righ on target here, Chris. Maybe not in detail, but with
the right spirit. Ask the question: who has both money to invest in the
development of Open Source e-books and the motivation to do so?

Large states are a candidate, though I don't know if the politics are
realistic or not. Foundations with traditional commitments to education or
to communications media are another; do we have anyone here savvy in the
ways of foundations who can address the realism of that idea?

Remember thoug that "initial creation" of an Open Source e-book is only half
the battle. As you noted in your other message, 10-year-old geography texts
and 5-yeat-old computer-science texts aren't very useful ... the same old
texts in e-text form would be equally old. I see two possibilities ...

1. Begin by focusing on a few areas where the material and the pedagogy
don't change much, so the e-book would have a fairly long life. HS trig
seems to me one plausible candiate fitting this description. Are there others?

2. Develop an institutional mechanism for supporting the regular updating of
the books, maybe with some sort of postdoc-style fellowship that rotates a
new "contributing author" in every (say) two years.

Just some blue-sky ideas, to flesh out your original suggestion a bit,
Chris. Not sure how feasible they are, but they sound better than waiting
for volunteer writers in the needed numbers and ranges of expertise.

------------------------------------"Never tell me the odds!"---
Ray Olszewski                                        -- Han Solo
Palo Alto, CA           	 	         ray@comarre.com