The Remixable Textbook

This morning, Macmillan announced a new kind of textbook -- a remixable electronic textbook that will give professors, according the New York Times, the ability "to reorganize or delete chapters; upload course syllabuses, notes, videos, pictures and graphs; and perhaps most notably, rewrite or delete individual paragraphs, equations or illustrations." Essentially, Macmillan provides the core text, and then professors get to customize the book to their liking. This remixing is a definite plus. But what's even better? This new line of textbook, dubbed DynamicBooks, will reduce costs for students, bringing a book traditionally priced at $150 down to a much saner $47. Perfect for the lean years. For more details, read this longer piece in Publishers Weekly.

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  • Avi Burstein says:

    Flat World Knowledge already does this, with an even better model: http://www.flatworldknowledge.com/.

  • Honam Choi says:

    Need one single knowledge providing portal, since there a lot of such sites scattered on the internet.

  • Lee Graham says:

    From my understanding, all textbooks are peer reviewed for accuracy.

    What happen to the value of the peer review process when the textbook is modified by a professor who doesn’t seem to share the same views as the original author?

    Scenario: What if an author writes a textbook on biology and in that textbook he states we evolved from apes. Then a prof comes in and doesn’t agree with the author on a couple of points and he modifies the text to read we evolved from primordial soup, not apes. Or, what if the prof changes to be something completely out there, such as we evolved from hot air balloons.

    The latter example is a bit far fetched I know, but at any rate, doesn’t this insult the original authors’ work? Why would an author want to write a textbook when some professor who doesn’t know Jack from Jill or agree with some of the authors content decides to edit his text and make it inaccurate?

    I see some value in what MacMillian is doing, but I want to play the devil’s advocate and get some feedback on this scenario.

  • Phil says:

    These are not open textbooks. Also, they don’t distribute in print.

    Another question I would have is “how long is the book available to the student?” Is it FREE, in any context?

    Heck, you can’t even link to any one of their books.

    Looks like a “pretend” open textbook site that’s a bastardization of CourseSmart.

    From their website: “If you see an opportunity to edit content in a text, you can submit your re-written content to the DynamicBooks editorial board to consider for future revisions.” What’s THAT all about? Why can’t I edit freely? Thus, a BASIC tenet of open – remixable, including freely editable, is not available. These are not open textbooks, period.

    Also, it looks like DynamicBooks they ripped of the color scheme and even the link categories from Flat World Knowledge. Go check those guys out at http://www.flatworldknowledge.com
    they’re doing it right.

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