Open access textbooks

Want to increase access to tertiary education but don't have lots of cash on hand for increasing your stock of educational materials? I recently met with the CTO of boundlessnow.com and they have an elegant solution to this problem: organize pre-existing open source content (eg. wikipedia) into textbook form and make access to students free.

As a bonus, the textbooks are organized to reflect the structure of pre-existing textbooks, so students unable to afford expensive textbooks can read the same material that their professor assigns to the rest of the class.  But I can imagine professors [particularly in low/middle-income, but highly-networked, countries] simply assigning the Boundless version of the textbook rather than bothering with lip-service to the original publication.

Some impressive points from their FAQs

How are Boundless Textbooks Made?Boundless Textbooks are created in a 3-step process:
  • We curate the highest quality open source educational content and vet it with our team of top educational professionals from Harvard, MIT, Columbia, UC Berkeley, and other top institutions.
  • We serve the open source educational content to cover the same material and concepts you are covering in your class and assignments.
  • We make your Boundless Textbook digitally available from any computer at anytime and integrate the ability to instantly share notes, highlights and more with classmates and friends. 
Do Boundless textbooks cost any money?No. Boundless Textbooks are 100% free. 
How long do I get access to Boundless Books?You get universal access to your Boundless textbooks for life. There are no rental periods or other limitations. 
How are the books free?Over the past 15 years, leading individuals and institutions, including MIT, Rice, Yale, and others, have begun releasing high quality educational content for others to use. This content is know as “Open Educational Resources (OER)”. 
Recently, various state governments and the US government have begun investing Billions of dollars to continue creating more high quality open content (yes, that’s Billions with a B). 
The Boundless Team organizes, edits and improves this content so that students can access the exact material that they need, whenever they need it.

Coupled to projects like OLPC, efforts like this could have big impacts on primary and secondary education as well.

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