Open Textbook Benefits

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After settling in her dorm in late-September this past fall, Kimberly Bennett rushed to her campus bookstore with a list, scribbled messily on a Post-it in hand. After navigating through the store and waiting in the long line to buy her materials, she walked out with a four-pound Chemistry textbook, a bundled access code, a lab notebook, a lab manual and a bill of $320. Although she had hoped to buy used books, the class syllabus forced Kim to buy the newest edition of the store-exclusive Chemistry bundle, all of which would be mandatory for the coming quarter.
Textbooks are a huge burden on college students, especially to those who take out loans or are financially insecure. According to data by The College Board, the average full-time undergraduate
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By digitizing books, students are able to access the content anywhere at anytime with ease, and thus have more opportunity to actually read the material. Most students equip themselves with phones, tablets, or laptops, all of which are extremely portable and capable of retrieving relevant information within a few seconds. According to a study conducted by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management of Education, “several students reported that the open textbook has made it more convenient for them to access other students and the text, which in turn made it easier for them to complete their homework” (Petrides). In a student’s busy life, the convenience of learning is crucial, especially in situations where a thirty-minute lunch break between work is all he or she has to study. Moreover, within these devices, students are able to take notes within the text, just as they would in traditional books, and engage in the material. In turn, the accessibility of the book and notes make it possible for them to be easily pulled up and used as a point of reference in class, which attribute further retention of the…show more content…
Forcing a single textbook on all students, like a one-size-fits-all, is ridiculous. In Baraniuk’s TED Talk in 2007, he emphasized how innovative the global repository of information could be due to its customizability. Most open licenses permit instructors to create customized versions of the textbook for use in their own classroom. Imagine the open content as clay. Unshaped, the clay sits there as a primordial piece of dirt. However, if someone starts working with the clay, he or she can create a myriad of functional products like bowls, ovens, or homes. An instructor could remove unwanted chapters, change notations, or insert their own sections and examples to shape their books and their students into highly sophisticated learning machines. It is to the educator’s benefit that the ability to customize a text is more closely aligned with his or her teaching approach (Baraniuk). In doing so, the instructor is able to target the individual needs of the class. For example, if the class is falling behind, the educator can transform and translate the information in such a way that the students are able to decipher the interconnections between topics. It enables knowledge to be in the front-seat as it evolves to fit the classes it is meant to
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