Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More on CCOER

Arden Pennell, 'Bookless' textbook study launched at Foothill, Palo Alto Online News, May 5, 2008.
A group of educators will meet at Foothill College this week to begin studying how to encourage widespread adoption of free online textbooks.

Funded by a $530,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources hopes to ease the burden on students who routinely pay $150 for clunky, hard-bound books, according to Judy Baker, dean of Foothill Global Access, an online-learning program.

The majority of grant money will go to the consortium's new Open Textbook Project, a collaboration with other schools and educational groups already using Web-based books to study the long-term feasibility of switching to online books, she said. The project hopes to overcome financial and practical snarls that have sidelined attempts to move learning online so far, she said. ...

This week, consortium members including representatives from community-college districts throughout California and the nation will meet with online-learning advocates from institutes such as Rice University's online-book database Connexions to tackle the multi-faceted project, she said.

While some books exist online now, there are several obstacles to widespread adoption the project hopes to surmount, she said. ...

It shouldn't be tough to convince professors to begin posting their documents on the Web, she said. They make little money from writing traditional textbooks versus the time they put in, particularly community-college professors, who gain less prestige from publishing than four-year-school colleagues, she said.

Yet Web-book programs have also faced money troubles they fail to grow into a useful resource without a good financial model, she said.

The Hewlett grant requires the consortium to present a long-term financial plan next spring to show how it can stay afloat, she said.

The Monterrey Institute for Technology and Education will help create the plan, she said. ...
See also previous OAN coverage of CCOER: 1, 2.