The library and physics department at N.C. State have joined together to offer a free e-textbook to students taking a physics course. According to an article from News Observer, the early reviews from the experiment have been mixed but it may be due to the actual textbook and not the use of online texts. A few students commented that the text needs more practice questions to help with their understanding. The students are also required to pay a fee for a lab manual and online interactive homework so there is still a cost associated with the class.
Michael Paesler, chairman of the physics department, says the department will review student evaluations at the end of the semester but already plans to introduce another low-cost e-textbook this fall for an optics class. Paesler commented, “I do think it's inevitable that this is the way of the future. It's obvious that the students are comfortable with electronic information, and to ignore that a lot of learning takes place electronically now would be just sticking your head in the sand.”
The N.C. State library has also created a helpful page on their website which includes information about open textbooks, links to more information, and a list of frequently asked questions.