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An author’s perspective


Notes from an author of three open source oceanography textbooks, Robert Stewart.  Stewart, R. 2009, ‘Some Thoughts on Free Textbooks’, EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 44, no. 1

  • Timeliness
    • Stewart cites the rapidity of change in his field (driven by technology). The options are clear, frequent revision or obsolescence.
  • Cost – Stewart is not talking about his costs, only those of students. His free textbooks can be printed for roughly $20 c.f.  $100-150 for traditional texts
  • Quality Control – Stewart reports that he recieves editorial advice from academics, students and others w.r.t factual & typographical errors as well as suggestions for improvement. He claims that this process is much harder under the traditional model, as is the act of revision by the author.
  • Professional Recognition‘words of thanks are worth far more than the few thousand dollars in royalties that I will not collect
  • Benefits of electronic media – Stewart reflects on the importance of using animation, film and other multimedia embedded within the textbook. this is simply not possible with traditional texts

Lastly, ‘If it isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.’

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