School Textbooks Just Wanna Be Free

by Jon Henshaw

With the huge success of Wikipedia (a Web-based, multi-language, free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers and sponsored by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation), Wikimedia Foundation Inc. is now embarking on a new project called Wikibooks. Wikibooks looks to take the same approach it took with Wikipedia, and create textbooks for all grades, including college level textbooks.

In the long run, it will be very difficult for proprietary textbook publishers to compete with freely licensed alternatives. An open project with dozens of professors adapting and refining a textbook on a particular subject will be a very difficult thing for a proprietary publisher to compete with. The point is: there are a huge number of people who are qualified to write these books, and the tools are being created to leave them to do that.

As most parents and students know (especially college students), textbooks have long been way overpriced. Also, there are many people that believe knowledge should be freely available to anyone. Making these textbooks freely available, and current, will enable anyone with Internet access to view, download, or print the books. The long term hope would be that these materials would be used in as many schools as possible as the primary learning material.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2005 at 5:53 pm and is filed under School and Learning. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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