UConn students, professor work on free 'open source' textbook fo - WFSB 3 Connecticut

UConn students, professor work on free 'open source' textbook for schools

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

A group of students and a professor at the University of Connecticut are part of an effort to write a book that will be used at the school and beyond.

It essentially would be a $300 textbook for available for free.

“To buy a 250 textbook and return it for $20 to $30 isn't really the best deal for me,” said Daniel Byrd, a UConn junior.

“It’s not something that I necessarily get covered by loans,” said Rachel Conboy, a UConn junior. “That is usually an out of pocket expensive for a lot of students.”

The extra cost isn’t a problem for some students because they’re using something called an “open source” textbook. It’s a free digital copy of the hardcover book.

“What I like about it is that they are just as good as regular textbooks except they are published under an open license,” Byrd said. “They're peer-reviewed, they're scholarly.”

With a $100,000 grant last semester, the student government had enough money to fund the creation of an open text and even expand the idea.

“Any student who wants to access the open stacks material can just go to their website and either download either a full color PDF of a textbook or read it online,” said Edward Neth, PhD, UConn.

Professor Neth is a major part of the plan. He said he’s adapting a chemistry book into an open source version.

The goal is for students at other schools to be able to use the “adapted” text.

Two colleges have already expressed interest, according to Neth. They’re Eastern Connecticut State University and Housatonic Community College.

Neth said he’s finished the table of contents. He has the template for the rest of it and is hoping to be able to use it by the fall.

State lawmakers held a public meeting last Monday to gain more information about open source texts. They said they want to look closely at two pilot programs, then may introduce new legislation next year to encourage the creation of more.

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