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jAZ
09-30-2005, 01:06 PM
Anyone who has ever had to participate in the scam that is the Textbook industry should be on board with this idea!


http://news.com.com/Wikibooks+takes+on+textbook+industry/2100-1025_3-5884291.html

Wikibooks takes on textbook industry

By Daniel Terdiman

Story last modified Wed Sep 28 04:00:00 PDT 2005

If you found yourself needing an old biology textbook and couldn't locate your battered copy from college, you'd have a few options.
You could go to a university bookstore and snag a used copy; you could drop a few dollars on a new one at Amazon.com; or you could track down some old college chums and ask for their copies.

But if Jimmy Wales and his colleagues at the Wikimedia Foundation have anything to say about it, you could have another way to go--the Wikibooks project. It's their attempt to create a comprehensive, kindergarten-to-college curriculum of textbooks that are free and freely distributable, based on an open-source development model.

Created in the same mold as the Wikipedia project--the open-source encyclopedia that lets anyone create or edit an article and that now has nearly 747,000 entries in English alone--Wikibooks is still in its earliest stages.

Yet because of Wikibooks' digital model, in which material written for the project can be as short or as long as needed, and be easily manipulated, read and edited, Wales and others believe it can pose a major challenge to the publishing industry's hold on the world of textbooks.

"The purpose is really contained in the word 'freely licensed,' which is to make available to anyone in the world, in any language, a curriculum that they can copy, redistribute and modify, for whatever purpose they may have, for free," Wales said.

The publishing industry is "going to have to recognize that there's a fundamental shift in the marketplace," he added. "Some of them will prosper. Some of them will figure out the new regime and find out ways to add value. Others will stick their heads in the sand and get slaughtered."

The hope is that by turning the Wikibooks keys over to a worldwide community of writers and editors, the project will eventually contain tens of thousands of books and smaller entries on a wide range of topics. In each case, the idea is that any Wikibooks reader could create his or her own book or make edits to an existing title.

Wales explained that the Wikibooks authors--whom he calls "volunteers"--are professionals from many fields, college and graduate students and professors. "All sorts of geeky people, basically," he said.

Today, Wikibooks contains 11,426 submissions. The topics covered range from biology to economics in New Zealand. Because the books are digital and open source, any teacher can decide to assign one and simply point students to PDFs they can print.

But Wales is the first to acknowledge that the project is several years away from maturity.

"It's still a young project," he said. "I would consider it to be mission accomplished when we could point and say, 'Well, you could teach yourself, or someone could teach you using these materials, (anything) from the kindergarten to the university level.'"

Naturally, Wikibooks isn't the only effort to amass a vast collection of digital books. Google has been building its library and print projects since last year. But where Google's project is a digital database of often copyrighted works, Wikibooks' material is all work that has been made free to the public.

Some in education think a project like Wikibooks gives academics new outlets for their research and puts a great deal of pressure on traditional textbook publishers to adapt to new technologies.

"There are a couple of huge tensions that exist in the academic world," said Steven Brewer, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts. "One is that the traditional model of publication as scholarship is slow. It takes a long time for material to get through the peer review process...As the idea of Wikibooks becomes more popular, we're going to see a bunch of things that are already published on the Internet start to become collected there."

Brewer also hopes Wikibooks opens up a new kind of learning opportunity for students because it leverages the power of digital information that is instantly modified and easily researched.

"There are a number of things people can do...that don't require Wikibooks to be finished yet," Brewer said. "The big one is to get students involved in producing materials (and) also vetting materials (and) also adding elaboration to materials."

He envisions teachers--at any level--asking students to examine existing Wikibooks entries for accuracy and relevancy and then appending their findings to those entries. That would allow the project to become a teaching tool and a work in progress all at once.

"Increasingly, we're going to see classes where students do that kind of work," Brewer said, "and I think that at that point we're going to see Wikibooks really take off."

Charlie Hibbard, a former high school teacher from San Francisco, agreed that Wikibooks can become a multilayered tool in a way existing textbooks never will.

"I like the idea of using it as a tool for kids to check and then post their own alterations," Hibbard said. "It might be a really good way to give kids a couple of lessons, not only about the particular content, but also about what's the nature of public information."

Brewer also buys Wales' argument that the Wikibooks model could eventually move publishing companies away from existing business models that depend on students buying expensive books containing more information than they will use in any given course and which take several years to produce.

"The idea of just going to a book that is always going to be a year or two out of date is...silly," Brewer said. "There are going to be faster ways of getting the newest ideas."

Representatives at two leading publishing houses did not respond to requests for comment.

Hibbard said he thinks textbook publishers will have little choice but to adapt as efforts like Wikibooks gain traction.

"They'd have to do something," Hibbard said. "They'd have to respond to the up-to-date (nature) of the Wikibooks version."

Certainly, Wikibooks has several shortcomings. One is its open nature, in which any registered user can edit existing entries. That means that any entry can be defaced or, more benignly, modified by someone who doesn't know what they're talking about.

Wales also acknowledges that some kinds of learning require multimedia beyond your basic wiki software tools.

"I'm learning German," Wales said. "You couldn't learn German just from a textbook...So I'm learning from audio CDs and games."

But he added that, over time, Wikibooks could be extended to include audio books.

In any case, while Wikibooks is small today, Wales argues it could one day be a relevant alternative to the traditional textbook model.

"It's growing exponentially," he said. "The bigger it gets and the more people stumble across it, the more people are interested in volunteering. So it grows in that way."

the Talking Can
09-30-2005, 01:10 PM
that's a great idea

Simplex3
09-30-2005, 01:14 PM
This is going to generate bribes for professors. "If you require our printed book we'll give you $$$".

It also won't stop the profs who have written their own book from requiring students to go buy it.

Rain Man
09-30-2005, 01:43 PM
It would take a massive fundamental shift in policy to make that fly. Right now, textbooks go through a huge (and largely political) approval process.* An open source book would have to go through the same process, and there are a lot of publishers that wouldn't want that to happen.

*Well, textbooks at the elementary and secondary level. I'm not sure about college textbooks.

Pitt Gorilla
09-30-2005, 02:09 PM
I'd be concerned about the content. I've written papers that had several coauthors and it was, at times, difficult to get three people to agree on what the data illustrated. Imagine millions of people, many who do not have first hand knowledge of the data, providing analyses.

The idea sounds cool, but I'm just not sure how well it would work. We'll see, I guess.

Ebolapox
09-30-2005, 02:35 PM
I agree with pitt... the idea sounds great, but getting it to totally work would be a b*tch

-EB-

jAZ
09-30-2005, 03:06 PM
It would work substantially better in a college environment where Profs have wider discretion on the text they use.

It also would work better in private and charter schools and for home-schooled students.

Public K-12 schools are indeed more political (as they should be to a large extent) and as such, they aren't the target audience to lauch such an initiative.

Ultra Peanut
09-30-2005, 03:43 PM
Textbooks are such a ****ing scam.

I do like this World Civ textbook I've got, though. I could read that thing just for the sake of doing so (actually, I have a little bit); but then, that sort of stuff is interesting, in general.

Straight, No Chaser
09-30-2005, 11:51 PM
Thanks for posting.

I'm imagining schools where students are issued laptops, WiFi cards, and subscriptions to educational portals... of course we must first witness the slow, prolonged death of standardized testing, 'teaching to the test', and accountability that limits student potential.



--->

ENDelt260
09-30-2005, 11:56 PM
PhD's are making such a killing teaching courses I'm sure they'd be more than happy to give up the potential money they could make by publishing textbooks.

Please.. the best minds aren't interested in giving shit away for free, and the wannabees don't wanna see their option for extra cash dry up. They're gonna support the published guys in the hopes they'll be published someday.

Halfcan
09-30-2005, 11:58 PM
I didn't actually read your post, it was too long. I didn't really even get the jist of it, but I will post something stupid and meaninngless anyway.

So who is fighting who over a text book?

ENDelt260
10-01-2005, 12:05 AM
Here's a really long and meaningless post. there's no reason for this, I'm just doing it to amuse my self. I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Though, not nearly as much as I like beer, pussy, and cocaine. Those are really my top three things when I can't get either pot or more pussy. This really long post is in no way a test of Halfcan's attention span. Anyway, I went to happy hour today... had a few beers, then came home. I'll be heading out to drink again shortly. Rush is the absolute worst band in the history of man. Anyone who is a diehard Rush fan sucks penises for fun and profit. So my mom called me tonight... while I was at the bar drinking. WTF was she thinking, huh? She knows I'm a luch. Don't call me on a Friday night, Mom. So, I was thinking today, if I were the sort of fellow who greatly enjoyed shoving large mishapen carrots up my ass, I'd probably call myself Halfcan. That just screams "too twisted for normal homosexuality" to me. Shiner Bock is really tasty beer. I've had a few since coming home from happy hour. I might have a couple more before walking to the bar to start my evening of serious drinking.

KcMizzou
10-01-2005, 03:03 AM
Here's a really long and meaningless post. there's no reason for this, I'm just doing it to amuse my self. I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Though, not nearly as much as I like beer, pussy, and cocaine. Those are really my top three things when I can't get either pot or more pussy. This really long post is in no way a test of Halfcan's attention span. Anyway, I went to happy hour today... had a few beers, then came home. I'll be heading out to drink again shortly. Rush is the absolute worst band in the history of man. Anyone who is a diehard Rush fan sucks penises for fun and profit. So my mom called me tonight... while I was at the bar drinking. WTF was she thinking, huh? She knows I'm a luch. Don't call me on a Friday night, Mom. So, I was thinking today, if I were the sort of fellow who greatly enjoyed shoving large mishapen carrots up my ass, I'd probably call myself Halfcan. That just screams "too twisted for normal homosexuality" to me. Shiner Bock is really tasty beer. I've had a few since coming home from happy hour. I might have a couple more before walking to the bar to start my evening of serious drinking. I agree with many of the points made in this post.

Miles
10-01-2005, 03:12 AM
Here's a really long and meaningless post. there's no reason for this, I'm just doing it to amuse my self. I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Though, not nearly as much as I like beer, pussy, and cocaine. Those are really my top three things when I can't get either pot or more pussy. This really long post is in no way a test of Halfcan's attention span. Anyway, I went to happy hour today... had a few beers, then came home. I'll be heading out to drink again shortly. Rush is the absolute worst band in the history of man. Anyone who is a diehard Rush fan sucks penises for fun and profit. So my mom called me tonight... while I was at the bar drinking. WTF was she thinking, huh? She knows I'm a luch. Don't call me on a Friday night, Mom. So, I was thinking today, if I were the sort of fellow who greatly enjoyed shoving large mishapen carrots up my ass, I'd probably call myself Halfcan. That just screams "too twisted for normal homosexuality" to me. Shiner Bock is really tasty beer. I've had a few since coming home from happy hour. I might have a couple more before walking to the bar to start my evening of serious drinking.

Nice rant even if it wasnt ment to be one.

Herzig
10-01-2005, 07:17 AM
Thanks for posting.

I'm imagining schools where students are issued laptops, WiFi cards, and subscriptions to educational portals... of course we must first witness the slow, prolonged death of standardized testing, 'teaching to the test', and accountability that limits student potential.
--->

I have an LCD projector in my classroom and it's SO useful. This week I used it to show real footage of tornadoes forming, wall clouds, and different types of tornadoes. I did the same with hurricane Rita and Katrina. The net has a lot of useful footage out there that is very helpful in illustrating sometimes difficult science concepts. Eliminating a student's need to take a text home is great idea and many textbook makers have already put their textbooks online. For a student with internet access, many already do not bring their books home.

In Arkansas, our version of the No Child Left Behind Test is called ACTAAP(Arkansas Comprehensive Testing, Assessment and Accountability Program) or "the Benchmark". Most of the people here probably wouldn't score "advanced" on the 6th grade test that I give every year. It is mostly essay/open response questions.

The funny thing is... Walmart, Tyson, JB Hunt(and other large companies in Arkansas) and colleges want a "norm referenced" test like the SAT or ITBS. So, Arkansas ends up(like most states) spending millions on testing for several tests instead of just one to satisfy local companies needs and the US Gov. with NCLB.

Skip Towne
10-01-2005, 08:13 AM
Here's a really long and meaningless post. there's no reason for this, I'm just doing it to amuse my self. I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Though, not nearly as much as I like beer, pussy, and cocaine. Those are really my top three things when I can't get either pot or more pussy. This really long post is in no way a test of Halfcan's attention span. Anyway, I went to happy hour today... had a few beers, then came home. I'll be heading out to drink again shortly. Rush is the absolute worst band in the history of man. Anyone who is a diehard Rush fan sucks penises for fun and profit. So my mom called me tonight... while I was at the bar drinking. WTF was she thinking, huh? She knows I'm a luch. Don't call me on a Friday night, Mom. So, I was thinking today, if I were the sort of fellow who greatly enjoyed shoving large mishapen carrots up my ass, I'd probably call myself Halfcan. That just screams "too twisted for normal homosexuality" to me. Shiner Bock is really tasty beer. I've had a few since coming home from happy hour. I might have a couple more before walking to the bar to start my evening of serious drinking.
Yes, you are a luch. Among other things.

cdcox
10-01-2005, 08:50 AM
PhD's are making such a killing teaching courses I'm sure they'd be more than happy to give up the potential money they could make by publishing textbooks.

Please.. the best minds aren't interested in giving shit away for free, and the wannabees don't wanna see their option for extra cash dry up. They're gonna support the published guys in the hopes they'll be published someday.


A very few people make good money off of writing text books. Most of the markets are far too small. Now if you can become one of the top 2 or 3 text books for a 100-level course, like biology or psychology, where you get hundreds of students cycling through the course each semester on every campus in the country, that is going to be a sweet gig. But for most junior, senior, and graduate level courses, the market is too small to get much return on the time invested.

Actually, teaching is probably the last place a professor will make a killing. Professors at community colleges and liberal arts schools may teach 3 or 4 classes a semester, compared to 1 or 2 classes a semester at research universities. Guess who gets paid more?

At a reasearch university, less than half of a faculty's time is spent teaching. The highest paid faculty positions are the star research faculty at research universities. Some of these folks have over $1M a year in research contracts, which the university skims off the first 3rd or so for overhead. So universities compete heavily for these folks. Still, these people are so bright and so hard working, they could certainly make more doing some other gig. However, the freedom to work on your own ideas without the interference of a boss and without the risks that come with owning your own business, together with the sense of accomplishment that comes from training young people and making new contributions to your field, are the reasons why faculty chose to do what they do.

If your research generates intellectual property, which you can spin off into a company, well then the sky is the limit as far as financial rewards go.

Consulting is another way to make good money. Some faculty can keep their caladar pretty full consulting at $150 - 200 per hour. I'm pretty sure no one is making that kind of hourly rate writing a text book, and certainly not by teaching. Most universities limit consulting to one day per week, otherwise the contributions to the teaching and research missions are compromised.

cdcox
10-01-2005, 08:57 AM
The Wikibooks is an interesting idea. I've had a text book that I've been completely satisfied with from a teaching point of view. I'll like one section from one book and two sections from another. This would give a lot more flexibility to tailoring the book to the course. In fact for a couple of my courses the main purpose of the text book is to provide diagrams, figures, reference tables and the like. The text book also gives the students some thing they can refer to later to refresh the concepts they have learned -- but many students sell their textbooks back now days. I'm not at all married to the current selection of textbooks and would like to see this take off. Some kind of editorial control is needed, though.

Straight, No Chaser
10-01-2005, 11:00 AM
I have an LCD projector in my classroom and it's SO useful. ...

Congratulations!

<sarcasm>
Indeed. You should get down on your hands and knees and thank the powers that be.

However, don't let your colleagues know you have one, then they'll want one too. Ohhh, and by the way, don't leave that projector on longer than you need to. The bulbs for those cost a student's arm and leg... replacement bulbs will wreck your Dept. budget.
</sarcasm>

There's a district in AZ that has about 300 students who is trying the no textbooks approach. It will be interesting to see how it works out. All students are given laptops and, get this: teachers are given autonomy in curriculum.

A history teacher can direct students to the original document they're studying (e.g. from Spanish-American War) and then students can read the document, analyze, etc. Vail, Arizona, is the "town". After living in AZ since '84 I still have no idea where Vail is...

The problem, as I see it, is being able to keeping good IT people around for support. Most of these geeks get out of college or certification, take a job in education, and start dreaming about six figures, and consider their time spent in schools as practice. The ones that remain longer than 3 years, well, you're stuck with (if you know what I mean).


--->

Phobia
10-01-2005, 11:33 AM
The ones that remain longer than 3 years, well, you're stuck with (if you know what I mean).


--->

I don't know what you mean, but I think Saulbadguy might.q

Phobia
10-01-2005, 11:34 AM
The ones that remain longer than 3 years, well, you're stuck with (if you know what I mean).


--->

I don't know what you mean, but I think Saulbadguy might.

Herzig
10-01-2005, 12:21 PM
Congratulations!

<sarcasm>
Indeed. You should get down on your hands and knees and thank the powers that be.

However, don't let your colleagues know you have one, then they'll want one too. Ohhh, and by the way, don't leave that projector on longer than you need to. The bulbs for those cost a student's arm and leg... replacement bulbs will wreck your Dept. budget.
</sarcasm>

--->

Yes, I'm very thankful that I have one. I had to pull some serious strings to check one out through the technology dept. I know about the expensive bulbs and only leave the power on when I use it. Actually, I wrote a grant about 2 weeks ago, so hopefully I will get one that's mine soon. The tech grant I wrote will give me $5,500 to buy a laptop, LCD, and a classroom set of wireless student answer "remotes". Tweleve grants are out there, so hopefully I will get one of them.

Straight, No Chaser
10-01-2005, 12:36 PM
Yes, I'm very thankful that I have one. I had to pull some serious strings to check one out through the technology dept. I know about the expensive bulbs and only leave the power on when I use it. Actually, I wrote a grant about 2 weeks ago, so hopefully I will get one that's mine soon. The tech grant I wrote will give me $5,500 to buy a laptop, LCD, and a classroom set of wireless student answer "remotes". Tweleve grants are out there, so hopefully I will get one of them.


I have a nice one [ Hitachi CP-S335W Projector ]. I think you can get it under 1000$. It throws a nice, clean image and has keystoning adjustments. Works great with DVDs. Hitachi makes the best LCDs right now. The only downside to this lumen rating is you have to have it fairly close to the screen. If you have more $$, try for a ceiling mounted unit with a higher rating.



---->

Herzig
10-01-2005, 12:54 PM
I have a nice one [ Hitachi CP-S335W Projector ]. I think you can get it under 1000$. It throws a nice, clean image and has keystoning adjustments. Works great with DVDs. Hitachi makes the best LCDs right now. The only downside to this lumen rating is you have to have it fairly close to the screen. If you have more $$, try for a ceiling mounted unit with a higher rating.



---->

Yep the ceiling mounted LCD would be the way to go(especially in a classroom). I hope I find out whether I got the grant or not soon.
Here's the site.

http://www.accessarkansasscience.org/stuartgrant.html

Straight, No Chaser
10-01-2005, 01:22 PM
I don't know what you mean, but I think Saulbadguy might.
:spock:


--->

Bob Dole
10-01-2005, 01:41 PM
It would work substantially better in a college environment where Profs have wider discretion on the text they use.


Maybe if you removed the professors from the equation... How much students have to spend on books has absolutely zero impact on the professor, unless the professor is using his/her own text/supplementary material. Where is the incentive that will convince a faculty member to utilize a no-cost book?

Sorry, but after working nearly 10 years in higher ed, there is one irrefutable fact:

Most faculty members are lazy teachers.

Do the Wikibooks have audiovisual supplements that the profs can use to augment classroom instruction? Do they have ePacks that the profs can plug into WebCT (or other curriculum management application) to use for thweir online course?

Bob Dole
10-01-2005, 01:49 PM
Congratulations!

<sarcasm>
Indeed. You should get down on your hands and knees and thank the powers that be.

...

The ones that remain longer than 3 years, well, you're stuck with (if you know what I mean).

Actually, Bob Dole is one of "those" guys who has remained in education for more than 3 years. Bob Dole has also written and maintained the budget to put a PC, DVD, VCR, television, opaque projector and ceiling mounted projector in every single classroom. Bob Dole also maintains an inventory of laptops and LCD projectors for faculty and staff checkout and is fighting to ensure that every new classroom being built contains, at minimum, the infrastructure needed to conduct and capture interactive video.

Admittedly, it is a constant battle, but it can be accomplished if someone cares enough to fight the battles necessary to make it all happen.