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Foothill College Instructor Brian Evans Completes Open Textbook Cost Study

Brian Evans, instructor in the Economics Dept. at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, has just made available the results of his study comparing the costs of using Open Textbooks vs traditional textbooks. Brian presents the factors involved in the study, statistics on the choices made by the students, student opinions, and some thoughts looking forward. Brian's Powerpoint presentation is attached to this blog post.

I talked with Brian about his results. One point that was summarized in this study, and also brought out in other studies, is that some students still like traditional textbooks and at times find them easier to use. Could it be caused by a deficiency in the tools (notebooks, touch screens, and associated s/w) that are in place to deliver the content? Hopefully with the new platforms such as the iPad and beyond, the user interface will improve and win more people over.

Brians study.........


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Tags: Brian, College, Cost, Evans, Foothill, Open, Study, Textbook, cost, economics


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Comment by Jacky Hood on April 15, 2010 at 2:26pm
Brian's review of the Textbook Media book is available at

You can also view an archived presentation by Ray Kaupp of Cabrillo College about his adoption of a FlatWorld Knowledge business book. Ray's talk is about 50 minutes into this archive (drag the slider at the bottom).
Comment by Brian Evans on April 15, 2010 at 1:49pm
Hi everyone. I just responded to a question from Rod (asking about Kate's question) ... then thought I might was well post directly.

Rod's response is correct... these are not open books in the sense of collaborative creation and the ability to edit sentences.

With the flatworld books you can arrange / delete chapter sections and in the future you should be able to edit at the sentence level for your own personal version. The other site does not allow any modifications.

However, in both sites you can search for terms, take notes and highlight... so they are much more than a simple PDF of a book. You probably want to go directly to or to get a better idea ... particularly as the two sites offer different presentation styles.

I am happy to answer more questions should anyone have any...
Comment by rod kirk on April 14, 2010 at 5:36pm
Comment back to Kate regarding if the books used online were "Open textbooks" or digital books.

I did some checking Kate, and it looks like there were two books used online. The one from TextBookMedia company appears to be a licensed digital version of the original hardback book. The other book, available on Flatworld, was more towards the side of "opentextbook" in that you can do such prep tasks such as re-arrange chapters, throw chapters out, and add annotations throughout where desired. Hope that helps.
Comment by rod kirk on April 14, 2010 at 5:16pm
Joy, there are a number of resources that span the range from open textbooks to other online books. Here's a partial list of links. That should get you started.

(1) College Opentextbook list of education books.

(2) WikiEducator has a wealth of free materials for instructors

(3) Connexions has 55 collections for educators.

(4) Open Courseware Consortium lists 282 Education courses

(5) Some other free-but-not-open education textbooks linked at the oerconsortium.
Comment by Joy Zhao on April 14, 2010 at 4:44pm
Thanks for sharing this meaningful and interesting research! Besides the free open textbooks that we have now, do we have low-cost online books for instructors? Providing low-cost online books can be a logical alternative that is helpful to both students and instructors.
Comment by Nicole Allen on April 13, 2010 at 1:06pm
Awesome! I look forward to sharing this with our student and faculty networks.
Comment by Kate LeGrand on April 13, 2010 at 12:46pm
Was the online textbook used in this study an open textbook or a digital textbook?
Comment by Cathy Alfano on April 13, 2010 at 6:13am
Thanks very much for posting this very interesting summary of Brian's study. It's great to have some statistics.

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