Going Free

I’m starting to get more and more email traffic that puts me in contact with people or organizations who are taking concrete steps to implement an overall strategy for the adoption of free and/or open source textbooks.  This post is focused on two such exciting examples.

1.  The State of California.  Go big or go home, eh?  This past fall, the governor “signed into law a proposal to create a website that will allow students to download digital versions of popular textbooks for free”.  As I understand it, the state is underwriting the development of 50 new texts for introductory college courses, as well as providing a site to host them.

Interesting.  I’ve heard that the California state system is one of the most coveted book contracts for publishing companies.  Which makes sense:  their K12 curriculum uses standard texts, and perhaps many of their universities do, too.

2.  Scottsdale (AZ) Community College Math Department.  At Scottsdale CC, they have a major initiative underway to teach all of their introductory course from free texts.  They have a wonderfully organized site that offers easy download for students.

A professor from the department contacted me about their interest in Active Calculus, the consideration of which is ongoing.

When I think more and more about how a typical student and a typical instructor use a textbook, I am more convinced than ever that we (all of us) have been substantially overpaying for our books for a long, long time.  I hope that more and more organizations — departments, universities, and even states — think about how they can use existing resources and their own to provide high quality free resources to students.  Don’t miss the American Institute of Mathematics’ approved open textbooks as part of their Open Textbook Project.


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