Tom's Two Cents

CA’s Digital Open Source Library and WA’s Open Course Library

CA’s Digital Open Source Library and WA’s Open Course Library

California Bill Pushes for Free Online College Books (via KQED MindShift)

Here’s a quick summary of the bills (there are actually 2):

• The first CA bill would create 50 open textbooks for high-enrollment college courses that would be free online and available in print for ~$20.  Book contracts would be awarded through competitive grant process open to publishers, faculty and organizations, and must use a Creative Commons Attribution license.

• The second bill would create the “California Digital Open Source Library” to serve as a platform for accessing and customizing the 50 open textbooks, and will include incentives for faculty to adopt these and other open textbooks.  It also requires that publishers provide free library reserve copies of textbooks adopted in high-enrollment courses at California’s public colleges.

• No cost is indicated in the bill summaries, but an article on KQED’s website quotes $25 million.  This is a lot of money given the state’s budget issues, but the return would undoubtedly be huge — the state has close to 3 million college students, at least half of which are at the community colleges where books on average cost more than tuition (as of ’08).

How this compares to the Open Course Library:

• WA is covering more courses (81) with less money (about $2 million).  However, CA would create a full open textbook for each course, while the Open Course Library can include non-open materials as long as the cost is under $30.

• Both programs use the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) open license for all new materials, which allows the public to freely use, distribute and adapt the material.  It also would allow publishers to improve and re-sell proprietary versions.

• Both aim to address high-enrollment courses, but WA’s focuses specifically on community college level.  It appears that CA will focus on all three public systems: the UCs, CSUs and CCCs.

Thanks to Nicole Allen and Brandon Muramatsu for this information!

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