Presenter: David Wiley, associate professor, Brigham Young University
For those unfamiliar with the term, an “open textbook” is a digital textbook created by teachers and education experts that is made available for free. The open nature allows districts to make changes to reflect their curriculum. For the past two years, Brigham Young University in Utah has conducted research into the use of open textbooks in high school science classes. During this period, approximately 4,000 high school science students in Utah have used open textbooks. Presenter David Wiley passionately presented information from this project. He says he feels most educators would agree that sharing is an important part of the education process, but it is often left out of planning and publication of source texts.
How did they do it? They paid teachers to develop the content, distributed a $5 paper copy to kids to keep (as well as a free online version) and then paid teachers to update content in the summer. Wiley also addressed the impressive cost benefits of an open textbook model. In Utah, the average science textbook costs $80 per copy and lasts for an average of seven years. Their model has proven a digital copy can be produced for much cheaper. As an added benefit, an open textbook can be edited infinitely as education standards and the source material changes. Additionally, students surveyed overwhelmingly preferred the open textbooks because they were clear, concise, easy to follow and relevant to their specific classes.
Dig In: Open Textbook Cost Calculator, www.opencontent.org/calculator/, www.davidwiley.org , Twitter: @opencontent.