Tag Archives: #Open Textbook

Revolution of Higher Education-Free Online Courses?

This morning I read a news article titled “How Australian universities can play in the MOOCs market”. It talks about the changing trend of tertiary education, and the potential revolution of higher education with the growing popularity and leverage of online courses. Particularly, it briefly analyses through the online courses from Australian universities as a new group in the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  In this post, I will respond to the leading question of the news article – “The billion dollar question for Australian universities is: how can we compete with the world’s most prestigious institutions in the MOOC space? On a comprehensive scale, maybe we can’t”.

Why we can’t? We can think the other way, better way. How about join all the online courses for higher education worldwide together? Why we have to compete with other prestigious institutions in the MOOC space? Competitions between online courses from various institutions make no benefit for the students’ learning outcome. The more efficient way for studying is to merge all online institutions together, possibly on one site with different categories. In that case, students worldwide are able to select and learn the same subject across various teaching strategies and a wider range of learning resources from different online institutions. More importantly, the marriage of different online institutions enables a massive global discussion forum about various courses from different institutions. As a result, it facilitates learning process by massive collaboration.

For Textbook Fair campaign, I have the idea of combining the learning materials used in the MOOC with the ones required for on-campus learning. If so, students don’t have to buy expensive textbooks if similar learning materials are available in the MOOC. Then we have an interesting question for you – do we need campus for universities any more?

Let’s watch the video and see how Australian professionals respond to it?

Internet to Replace Campuses

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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337


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Textbook Rebellion – From $120 To $20

LAW student, BUSINESS student, BIOLOGY student, ENGINEERING student… Have you ever complained about the ridiculously priced textbooks while looking for the proper textbooks with your mobile phone ready in front of a wall of used-textbooks-selling ads at university? Have the F-word ever been around your mind while the seller bring the textbook and you find out the textbook was an old edition? -Then you have to say sorry to the seller and start over the calling process again. Usually, the result is that you can’t find any used textbooks in the new edition that you want. Eventually you have to go to the bookstore and F*cking all the way to buy the new edition textbook in the original price.

What a F*ck! Unfair, Isn’t it?!!

Let’s have a look a short price list of the textbooks used by a friend of mine in one semester, majoring in commerce at University of Sydney —Co-op price:





IS Co-op trying to rob the students?

Hopefully, every cloud has a silver lining—

Advances in Open Textbook Publishing Technology

Advances in web technologies have made it possible to democratize the production of open, reusable, remixable textbooks without sacrificing quality. The panelists will actively demonstrate three advances made possible by new web technologies: 1. User-friendly authoring tools that make it easy to produce and adapt remixable open textbooks; 2. An innovative production pipeline that enables beautiful and engaging textbook content to be distributed seamlessly to any student on any device in many formats; 3. New interactive content visualizations that enable students to interact with their books, explore rich data sets without downloading specialized tools, and view beautiful figures in printed media without additional work. The panel will explore examples from Connexions, Siyavula, American Institute of Mathematics, Booktype, P2PU, Quadbase, and FullMarks.

Questions Answered

  1. How do you make creating, sharing, and remixing open textbooks easy, without sacrificing quality?
  2. How do you produce beautiful and engaging textbook content and distribute it to any student on any device in many formats?
  3. How will future textbooks engage students by taking advantage of new web technology and new connections between OER from many providers?

Posted by on October 5, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337


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OERUniversity – Challenges and Possibilities

This is…”Open Learning 2.0”: Any student can study any content, supported in any number of instructional arrangements…The “local” institutional evaluation and accreditation…(remain) at the centre of the model…Even though learning is achieved through flexible arrangements, it can…still be rigorously assessed and credentialed. (Friesen and Murray 2011)

The OER university: from vision to realityCertification of Open Learning – a workshop with OERTest colleagues at EFQUEL.

“The OERuni is an international innovation partnership which aims to build a parallel learning universe to provide more affordable learning opportunities for all students worldwide who are currently excluded from the university sector. University Of Wollongong is a founding anchor partner of OERuni.”

Posted on the news section of UOW websit:

In the 1990s, before the internet was around, UOW was broadcasting free postgraduate lectures and documentaries three hours a day on Australian television and satellite to the Asia Pacific, under the banner of PAGE.

So what is happening on the Open Educational Resources (OER) front today?

More than 60 people attending an eLearning Forum on Open UOW held on 28 August (including staff through videoconference from Nowra and Bega) were provided the latest update. Guest speaker was Professor Wayne Macintosh who is the founding director of the OER Foundation and holds the Commonwealth of Learning Chair in OER at Otago Polytechnic. [The OER Foundation is co-ordinating the OERuni international network].

OERuni tends to encourage the national tertiary education as a whole. It is ideal if all the Australian universities join together in OERuni for the sake of learning, studying, sharing, improving and whole lots of initiatives and benefits. What makes me in a deep concern is the integration of OERuni and campus-based universities. Particularly when it comes to the sharing of textbooks and learning material. Academia should make the most use of virtual space for education. High cost of education should not be the reason to stop a learner’s step any more. A hybrid model of both virtual university and physical university is probably the idealist way to go in the future.

Related Links:

OER uni

-in UOW

-in WikiEducator

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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337


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Virtual University- ‘Building on iTunes U – Global Textbook Station’

If we have Internet, mostly I guess broadband Internet, why should we ridiculously spend hundreds of dollar on paper textbooks? How about establish a ‘virtual university’ for Open Educational Resource? Here, the ‘virtual university’ is not the same as online university for distant education to meet the demands of students who are not able to physically go to lectures or tutorials on campus. The ‘Virtual University’ is for Open Textbook – global-based educational resource station. In this international platform, university students learning the same or similar courses can join together to share and discuss their required textbooks and learning materials. Who will make these required textbooks accessible without students’ great amount of expenditure? The university, the government support, private law firms, philanthropist… Yes! We need their support! Is that possible? Let’s have a look at a possibly VirtualUniversity-to-be Model– iTunesU. (Maybe some of you or most of you have already experienced it).

iTunes U is basically more like a showroom for actual courses running at universities worldwide. It is indeed free of charge, allowing open subscription and review forum for anyone in the world. Though it’s still a bit far from ‘Virtual University’ in the perspective of Open Textbook, however, it’s much easier to achieve the goal of Open Textbook via building on iTunes U.

What I think is that each university that already existed in iTunes U publishes their Textbook lists according to requirements of different faculties. The access of Open Textbooks in iTunes U is controlled and limited by students’ ID (i.e. student number or Uni-pass). It means only students who have enrolled in the programs within universities can access the Textbooks Resource.

If ‘iTunes U-Global Textbook Station’ is able to be successfully established, it will dramatically increase the variety and accessibility of textbooks and learning materials which cannot be found or accessed in our own university. It will possibly leads a global study forum with professionals, educators and students to discuss and tackle the problems that experience during reading and studying the textbooks. As a result, it tends to give the editors and authors of the textbooks a much clearer and more reasonable direction of what should be improved and changed for ‘new editions’ rather than unnecessary minor changes for profit intentions.

How do you think the idea of ‘iTunes U-Global Textbook Station’?


Posted by on September 17, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337


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Access your Textbooks – Digital VS Physical

COME ON, GUYS! Vote for your ‘LIKE’ and ‘IDEAL’!!!

No matter you are an old fashioned physical book reader or a tablet-savvy book reader, the way we choose to interact with the book content is crucial and somehow related to the effectiveness and satisfaction level of our reading experience.

For university students, the preference of formats or types of textbooks predominantly depends on the price that can be afforded rather than the preferred reading habit. According to my empirical research, there are still a great number of students who are able to achieve better learning outcomes through taking notes,tagging,highlighting in a physical textbook. For others, they enjoy the efficiency of E-textbook or electronic learning materials that virtual tools enable faster and effective study.  A research on “Reading behaviour in the digital environment” done by Ziming Liu (2005) from San Jose State University, California,USA, presents a trend of reading habit that shifts from paper-based to screen-based reading with an increasing amount of time spent.

The screen-based reading behaviour is characterized by more time spent on browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, non-linear reading, and reading more selectively, while less time is spent on in-depth reading, and concentrated reading.

The research reveals that although the screen-based reading behaviour is emerging, the traditional pattern of reading has not yet migrated to the digital environment.

Moreover, as a university student, I can feel that no matter how advanced reading tool I applied in the process of reading, in certain period of time I definitely need some sort of physical tools or material to assist the entire learning process. Do you have the SAME feeling?

Therefore, when it comes to the Open Educational Resources (OERs), the combination of physical and virtual (electronic) learning resources is crucial. With the goal of achieving ideal learning outcomes, OERs in both physical and electronic versions in most cases are necessary to tailor university students’ various reading habits.

In the next blog, we will discuss something about “Virtual University” to increase and further the possibility and potential of OERs in modern-day universities.


Ziming Liu, (2005) “Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years”, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 61 Iss: 6, pp.700 – 712.

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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337


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Open Educational Resources (OER) in the US, What can Australian Department of Education do for Open Educational Resources for tertiary education?

We can see that Australian government did make effort to promote open educational resources. However, these open resources are mainly limited to K-12 education than university education. As a result, an increasing drop-out rate due to expensive textbooks across Australian universities is alarming for the importance of open education resource or other affordable textbook alternatives. Now, it’s time to learn from the successful model of Open Educational Resources (OER) in the US for tertiary education to help the drop-outs out of financial pressures.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (Public Law 110-315) (HEOA) was enacted on August 14, 2008, and reauthorizes the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) in the United States. Also, a provision relates to textbook affordability and access to pricing information went into effect in 2010. Moreover, “bills supporting the development of open textbooks have been introduced in both the House and Senate” (U.S Department of Education 2008 & Student PIRGS 2010).  The HEOA price disclosure law  helps accelerate the pace of Open Textbook. Open textbooks mean “college texts that have been published online under an open license that allows free digital access, low-cost printing and customization by instructors.”More importantly, the major difference is the application of  “Open License”,  which enables a wider range of access for affordable textbook formats, involving “free web-based versions, printable PDFs, and printed and bound hard copies for $20-40 (traditional textbooks usually cost $100-200!).” one of the most notable feature of open textbooks is customization – Instructors can remove the chapters that is less relevant to the course content, or they can add in supplementary materials, homework questions or annotations (Student PIRGS 2010).
I highly advocate applying the mechanism of Open Textbook in the US to Australian universities with changes based on specific Australian universities’ differences and needs. Let’s have a look at the main open educational resources in Australia at the moment (As I mentioned before, mainly for K-12 education):

•    Writers Talk

•    Science Talk

  • Intel skoool

•    Software-specific resources – Tools4U

•    UCreate

•    Dynamic calculus


     Current statistics for Sites2See—

  • How about including the textbook content used at universities into the already existed open educational resources?

In terms of the open resources for Australian universities –
“The University of Southern Queensland and Wollongong University are among 15 institutions which will contribute courses to the Open Education Resource University, which is being run by WikiEducator” (The Australian 2012).
University of Tasmania, Australia – Open Educational Resources (OER)

“The UNESCO declaration was presented at the World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress in Paris in June. The congress is a partnership between UNESCO and the non-profit Commonwealth of Learning” (The Australian 2012).

ROCK UP!!! Let’s come together to make Open Textbook available across Australia and the world!!!

[The benefits for students from Open Textbook]
According to the Report A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks Are The Path To Textbook Affordability, found that “using open textbooks could reduce costs 80% – that’s $184 per year, compared to the current average of $900!  But cost isn’t the only advantage. In our survey, student preferences were split 75% for print and 25% for digital, and two out of five said they’d be comfortable using both. Students listed readability, convenience and cost as their top factors in choosing a format, although there was no consensus on which format represented these qualities best. Given such variance in student preferences, open textbooks are a far more effective solution than conventional options like rentals and e-books, since students can choose from a wide variety of affordable options” (Student PIRGS 2010).

Allen, N 2010, A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks Are The Path To Textbook Affordability, The Student PIRGs, viewed 2 September 2012, <;.
‘Online and free, the real education revolution accelerates’, The Australian, 03 July 2012, viewed 5 September 2012, <;.
Student PIRGS 2010, Make Textbook Affordable, viewed 5 September 2012, <;.
U.S. Department of Education, ‘Higher Education Opportunity Act – 2008’, viewed 5 September 2012, <;.

Related articles:
1. Higher Education Opportunity Act enlists universities to halt file sharing by threatening federal funding
3.Smartcopying: The Official Guide to Copyright issues for Australian schools and TAFE

Please leave a comment about anything relevant to Affordable Textbook!!!


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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in #mdia3005, @TextbookFair, z3310337


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