The University of Illinois has received a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to create an open-source textbook to be used by students on its three campuses. The textbook will also be shared with community colleges in the state and other universities across the nation. Rather than providing less restrictive licenses to current material, University of Illinois faculty members will create the textbook—the subject of which has not been decided. Once made, the textbook will be available online for free, and a print version will be available for a reasonable price. Faculty at the university hope that this is the first of many open-access books.
A news post from UI Springfield has a short video about the project.
Charles Evans, University of Illinois associate Vice President for academic affairs states, “The idea behind open-source textbooks is to allow students to go to a website and download customized material for their course. The material is made up of a mix of resources already available on the web and resources provided by faculty. The real benefit of open source materials is it allows faculty to customize their courses and actually produce a better teaching-learning experience for students."
According to Ray Schroeder, director of the University of Illinois Springfield, online textbooks are nothing new to many instructors at UIS, “Schroeder estimates that about 15 to 20 percent of courses currently offer open-source resources.”
A recent article from The Chronicle takes a look at this topic and also discusses the grant that was awarded to the Florida Distance Learning Consortium to research the barriers to entry of adopting open-source textbooks.