Textbook prices

Argh!

Textbook prices are crazy, crazy, crazy!

It might be OK if textbooks were good. But many suck. Tornado-in-Kansas levels of suck.

Some are great reference books, but that’s not what they’re for. They’re for learning. Most textbook authors don’t study learning. Publishers don’t ask them to. Professors adopting textbooks aren’t trained in learning, either, so they don’t know what to look for.

Towards less argh!

Suppose Prof. Fotherington-Smythe III is an expert in chemistry. PFS3 goes to the CyberCourse wiki, and, with the help of the community, learns about learning. He downloads the Cyco software. It’s open source, free for anyone to use and improve. He writes a stunning chemistry course, and installs it on a Web site, with the help of his 13-year-old daughter.

PFS3 promotes his course on email lists and at conferences. He charges students $30 to use the site. That’s one-fifth of the price of a regular textbook. Even though his book is cheaper, it’s better, since PFS3 wrote it following best practices from learning research.

How can PFS3 charge so little? Because he gets 100% of the revenue. Now he can afford to skip summer teaching, and spend time improving his course.

The bottom line: students get more value for their money and time.

Like what you see? Take a look at what you can do.