Textbooks can be free

Open-source books should replace outdated, expensive textbooks.

One problem that all college students relate to one another on is textbook prices. Each semester, we dread buying books because of the unnecessarily high costs. President Eric Kaler believes that the University of Minnesota will move forward with the use of more eTexts — less expensive online textbooks — in the near future. However, there’s an even better solution to the extreme costs of textbooks: open-source learning.

While eTexts may be cheaper because they save on publishing costs, they still dip into students’ bank accounts. Open-source learning, an innovative and inevitable movement, is underway, which provides free distribution and access to books of all sorts. The open-source philosophy works to reinvent the way we view books and learning from them.

Rice University professor Richard Baraniuk explains in a TEDTalk that we should build a “knowledge ecosystem” in which anyone in the world can create and share educational materials. Connexions is a group that for several years has been developing a “massive super textbook” for sharing. Baraniuk urges that we must cut out the middleman of publishing by creating a free, online education system of textbooks and open information that’s accessible to all.

The open-source method of learning would allow instructors to create and share information for all students to utilize. This type of education system is open to the whole world, which would share information on an immense level. While open-source books are the ideal solution to the high costs of textbooks, eTexts are a step in the right direction. In the meantime, students should use eTexts and push for an open-source learning model instead of pricey textbooks.