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Press Release

Initiative Focuses on Expanding Free to Low-Cost Online Textbooks

Open textbooks gain ground as economical, education alternative

LOS ALTOS HILLS, Calif. – August 10, 2009 -- With community college enrollments and textbook prices on the rise, a U. S. and Canadian consortium of community colleges this week announced plans to expand a free to low cost digital textbook initiative with $1.5 million in funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Efforts by the Community College Open Textbook Collaborative over the next two years could save students millions of dollars by increasing the number of free high-quality textbooks available online as alternatives to expensive printed textbooks sold by publishers. The collaborative also will train community college instructors in how to get the most out of free digital textbooks to meet the learning needs of their students.

"This grant comes at an opportune time,'' said Mike Brandy, chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, which is leading the collaborative. "It coincides with the growing interest in open educational resources, such as President Obama's proposal to invest $500 million over the next decade in developing free high school and college courses. Open textbooks are moving into the mainstream as financially distressed states such as California look to free digital textbooks to reduce the cost of public education.''

The grant from the Hewlett foundation will support a campaign to raise awareness about open textbooks among community college instructors and students and increase the number of free, high-quality digital textbooks available online for community college courses with the highest enrollments.

Funding for the collaborative will expand the work of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (http://oerconsortium.org), which includes 94 member colleges across the United States and Canada. Founded in 2007 by the Foothill-De Anza district, the consortium (CCCOER) already has peer-reviewed several new open textbooks for use in community college courses and identified more than 250 others for consideration. Open textbooks are freely available for use without restriction and can be downloaded or printed from web sites and repositories. (See the Community College Open Textbook Project web site, http://www.collegeopentextbooks.org.)

"The collaborative will make it much more convenient for faculty to feasibly explore alternatives to expensive textbooks,'' said Judy Baker, dean of Global Access at Foothill College and founder and director of CCCOER. "Digital content is much more flexible than a printed textbook, so instructors can customize their content using free material on the Internet, instead of having to adjust their instruction to match what a publisher locks into print."

The Collaborative’s academic partners include Rice University's Connexions, the California-based Faculty Collaborations for Course Transformations program, the Florida Distance Learning Consortium, the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) and the League for Innovation in the Community College.

Last year, CCCOER and Rice's Connexions (http://cnx.org), one of the world's largest repositories for open textbooks and other open educational resources, worked together to produce a proof-of-concept open textbook, Collaborative Statistics, written by two De Anza College mathematics instructors. Since its posting in the fall 2008, some 25 instructors nationally have adopted the free digital textbook for use in 43 course sections by an estimated 1,720 students.

Open textbooks will gain greater acceptance as more faculty become familiar with them through training, and as more of the textbooks are peer reviewed, Baker said. Until those things happen, adoptions of open textbooks will be limited to what she calls "innovators and early adopters."

Such limited use would be a loss, Baker said, because not only do open textbooks save students money, they also can improve the learning experience for both students and faculty. "Open textbooks let students and faculty bring greater context, timeliness and relevance to their instruction through Internet linking and networking opportunities,''

she said. Using web-based social networks, the collaborative will link community college instructors into a learning community where they can share their knowledge and experiences with creating and using open textbooks for their courses. The collaborative also will solicit authors to write open textbooks and assemble panels of subject matter experts to review open textbooks for standards of quality, accessibility and cultural relevance.

The Hewlett Foundation has been a global leader in funding open educational resources, which are digital learning materials that are freely available to anyone with Internet access. The Foothill-De Anza Community College District is located in Silicon Valley and educates more than 44,000 students annually at two colleges, Foothill College and De Anza College. The Hewlett board awarded the two-year grant on July 20 and notified the district of the award on Aug. 3, 2009.

Media Contacts:

Sharyn Fitzpatrick

College Open Textbooks

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+1 650-814-5835 or +1 650 564-0011


Open textbooks gain ground as economical, education alternative

Open educational resources are growing in mainstream importance as decreasing education budgets, at both a federal and state level, could have a devastating effect on how our future students will learn and the quality of their education.  The economic shortfalls that are occurring at both a state and federal level are driving initiatives to find better, more impactful and less costly alternatives to published materials.

President Obama's American Graduation Initiative (AGI)[1], which is incorporated into the "Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act," passed by the House in 2009, would provide $12 billion over the next 10 years, to improve community colleges and help students to complete a college degree. The AGI is intended to support progress toward achievement of the President's overarching goal, to have the United States, once again, be first in the world by 2020, in having the "highest proportion of college graduates in the world."

Included in the AGI is a proposal by President Obama to invest $500 million over the next ten years to develop the highest quality free online open source high school and college courses and curricula including open textbooks that will be available to all 24/7/365.

What is an "Open Textbook"?

According to Wikipedia, an open textbook is an openly-licensed textbook offered online by its author(s). The open license sets open textbooks apart from traditional textbooks by allowing users to read online, download, or print the book at no additional cost.[2]    For a textbook to be considered open, it must be licensed in a way that grants a baseline set of rights to users that are less restrictive than its standard copyright.  A license or list of permissions must be clearly stated by the author.

The definition of "open textbook" is changing as the knowledge revolution evolves and grows.  What is known is that it must be:

  • easy to use, get and pass around,
  • editable so instructors can customize content,
  • cross-platform compatible,
  • printable,
  • and accessible so it works with adaptive technology.

Challenges of "Open Textbooks"

With the growing diversity of the US student population, there is a growing need to localize and customize the learning resources to fit this audience and its ever-changing demographic. As the world of open textbooks become more of a reality, one of the biggest challenges will be how best to determine the quality of the content that is available.  Creating educational standards for curricula areas, peer review of materials and creating high-quality supplemental course materials are just examples of tools that will be used for selecting and publishing content that will add value to the education process. 

Introducing College Open Textbooks Collaborative

Funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in August 2009, the Community College Open Textbook Collaborative (CollegeOpenTextbooks.org) isa collection of colleges, governmental agencies, educational nonprofits, and other education-related organizations.The collaborative provides training for instructors adopting open resources, peer reviews of open textbooks, an online professional network, support for authors opening their resources, and other services. 

The formation of the Collaborative coincides with the growing international interest in open educational resources and the need to move to open digital textbooks as a way to help financially distressed states such as California reduce the cost of public education.

The Collaborative's academic partners include Foothill College, De Anza College, Rice University's Connexions, the California-based Faculty Collaborations for Course Transformations program, the Florida Distance Learning Consortium, the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) and the League for Innovation in the Community College.  Other member organizations include the Community College Open Education Resources, Connexions, Happy About, Inc., MERLOT, Open Education Resources Center for California, Dynamic Books, and Words & Numbers.

The focus of these efforts could save students millions of dollars by increasing the number of open high-quality textbooks available online as alternatives to expensive printed textbooks sold by publishers. Key highlights of the initiative include:

  • A campaign to raise the awareness about open textbooks among community college instructors, students and authors as well as to state legislators.
  • Increasing the role of advocacy by providing online and peer communities that will provide "Train the Trainer" programs and a repository of reusable training and marketing materials for them to use in their roles as evangelists and advocates at their colleges.
  • Increase the use of open textbook adoptions in key disciplines such as math.
  • Create an easy-to-use central repository for toolsets that can be shared amongst the peer communities and initiatives created to promote and support open textbook adoption.

College Open Textbooks has already peer-reviewed several new open textbooks for use in community college courses and identified more than 250 others for consideration. Open textbooks are freely available for use without restriction and can be downloaded or printed from web sites and repositories.

The core team for College Open Textbooks includes Dr. Judy Baker, Jacky Hood, Una Daly, Bill Buxton, and Mitchell Levy.  To join the Ning Communities supported by this initiative, go to: http://collegeopentextbooks.ning.com/and  http://opentextbookadvocatetrainers.ning.com/

Additional resources online:

There is a wealth of information on the trends, benefits, and adoption patterns of states adopting open textbooks. Here's just a select set of URLs to review:

Chancellor's Office Textbook Affordability web pages:

CSU Affordable Learning Solutions:

CUNY Textbook Savings:

Also see Overview of Public Policy:

An excellent summary of state initiatives and inter-state cooperation can be found at http://www.oncoreblueprint.org

WikiEducator: an international community of educators collaborating on the development of free teaching materials in support of all national curricula by 2015    http://wikieducator.org



Press Release

DynamicBooks and College Open Textbooks Partner to Make Open
Textbooks Easy to Edit and Customize

Students Benefit with Digital Textbook Access Using the Computing Device of their Choice

New York and Los Altos, CA, September 14, 2010 — DynamicBooks and College Open Textbooks announced today an agreement by which College Open Textbooks will facilitate identifying high quality, peer reviewed open textbook titles to be offered on the DynamicBooks online interactive textbook platform. The DynamicBooks platform enables instructors to customize and personalize textbooks that are delivered to the instructor's students using an advanced reader and annotation tool that can be used from most computing devices.

The goal of both DynamicBooks and College Open Textbooks is to make open textbooks easy to edit, personalize, update and expand. Twenty-seven open textbooks from varied disciplines including history, science, business and mathematics will be available from the DynamicBooks platform beginning in January 2011 with more titles planned throughout 2011. Students will pay a $20 per term fee that enables them to highlight, annotate, search, print page-by-page and easily navigate through their customized DynamicBooks.

"It is exciting to see DynamicBooks working with Creative Commons-licensed textbooks to bring shareable, re-mixable, and reusable educational resources to teachers," said Eric Steuer, Creative Director of Creative Commons. "We are happy that this collaboration will provide educators with content that allow them to more easily do their jobs."

Using the DynamicBooks editing tool, instructors can revise content, add or delete chapters or sections and include audio, video and course notes to make the textbooks more current and more relevant for their students. Students can access DynamicBooks online, download the books to their computer, print up to ten pages at a time. Printed, bound versions are also available for student purchase. Instead of copyright, all rights reserved, these textbooks are copyrighted with Creative Commons, GFDL, and customized open licenses that mean the textbooks can be freely shared and modified.

"Open textbooks have vast potential to reduce costs and increase flexibility for both students and faculty," said Nicole Allen, Textbooks Advocate for The Student PIRGs and Campaign Director for Make Textbooks Affordable. "With the cost of textbooks rising at a rapid rate, we applaud any initiative that will help get affordable options like open textbooks into the hands of students."

The open textbook titles that will be available in the DynamicBooks platform for Spring 2011 classes include:

Science and Physical Sciences

  • Concept Development Studies in Chemistry, John S. Hitchinson
  • Physics for K-12, Sunil Kumar Singh
  • AP Environmental Science, University of California College Prep (Ana Preciado)
  • Project Management for Scientists and Engineers, Merrie Barron and Andrew R. Barron
  • What is Biodiversity, Collection Editor: Nora Bynum. Authors: Eleanor Sterling, Ian Harrison, James Gibbs, Melina Laverty, Robert Ahlfinger
  • Educational Psychology, Kelvin Seifert and Rosemary Sutton

Mathematics & Statistics

  • Elementary Algebra, Wade Ellis and Denny Burzynski
  • Advanced Algebra II: Conceptual Explanations, Kenny M. Felder
  • Advanced Algebra II: Activities and Homework, Kenny M. Felder
  • A First Course in Linear Algebra, Robert A. Beezer
  • Collaborative Statistics, Barbara Illowsky, Ph.D. and Susan Dean
  • Trigonometry, Michael Corral


  • A Comprehensive Outline of World History, Jack E. Maxfield
  • US History since 1877, Dr. James Ross-Nazzal
  • History of Western Art and Civilization, Beth Harris, Albert Van Helden Business, Economics and Politics
  • ECONOMETRICS, Bruce E. Hansen
  • REMIX: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, Lawrence Lessig
  • Business Ethics, William Frey
  • Minority Studies: A Brief Sociological Text, Ruth Dunn
  • Three Modules on Clear Writing Style: An Introduction to The Craft of Argument, Joseph M. Williams and Gregory Colomb
  • Basic Political Concepts, Paul deLespinasse


  • Quantitative Information Analysis III, Collection Editor: Jeffrey Stanton Authors: Susan Dean Barbara Illowsky, Ph.D.
  • Programming Fundamentals: A Modular Structured Approach using C++, Kenneth Leroy Busbee
  • Intro to Logic, Ian Barland, Phokion Kolaitis, Moshe Vardi, Matthias Felleisen, John Greiner, Fuching Chi
  • Miscellaneous
  • The Basic Elements of Music, Catherine Schmidt-Jones
  • OER Handbook for Educators 1.0, Seth Gurell, David Wiley, PhD, editor
  • Minority Studies: A Brief Sociological Text, Ruth Dunn

About College Open Textbooks Collaborative The Community College Open Textbooks Collaborative (College Open Textbooks) is funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. This collection of 16 educational nonprofit and for-profit organizations, affiliated with more than 200 colleges, is focused on driving awareness and adoptions of open textbooks to more than 2000 community and other two-year colleges.. For More Information, go to www.collegeopentextbooks.org

About DynamicBooks DynamicBooks brings a new generation of interactive textbooks to students, instructors and authors. Using the DynamicBooks editing tool, instructors can easily customize the content of both open textbooks, and textbooks from leading textbook publishers. Authors gain new creative options and timely book updates. Students can access DynamicBooks using BookShelf from Vital Source Technologies, an Ingram Content Group company. DynamicBooks is a subsidiary of Macmillan. For More Information, go to www.dynamicbooks.com.

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Media Contacts:

Karen Lippe DynamicBooks

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+1 831-430-0526


Sharyn Fitzpatrick

College Open Textbooks

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+1 650-814-5835 or +1 650 564-0011


Press Release

For Immediate Release
October 20, 2010
Contact: Mollie McGill
Deputy Director, WCET

WCET Announces Awards for Outstanding Use of Technology in Higher Education


Boulder, Colorado– The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2010 WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award, a competition that recognizes innovative uses of educational technologies in higher education.  Since 2004 the WCET WOW award has been presented to higher education institutions and organizations for exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to a significant problem or need. In 2010, the awards go to four ambitious projects, each addressing a challenging issue with a unique solution: changing the role of journalism and new media to promote civic engagement; providing adult learners with on-demand programs and services to encourage degree completion; increasing the adoption of open textbooks to lower student costs; and promoting the integrity of academic online programs. 

2010's WOW Award recipients:

 “This year the selection process included a more explicit review of measurable outcomes to assess the actual impact of each approach to the specific, targeted need,” noted Peg O’Brien, WOW Awards Committee chair and director of extended programs for Dakota State University in South Dakota. “The WCET WOW award represents a great tribute to the work of the winning organizations, and also serves as a meaningful way to disseminate exemplar practices to the higher education community.”

These winning projects, which will be honored at the WCET Annual Conferenceon November 10-13 in La Foothill-De Anza Community College District logoJolla, California, include the following:

Foothill-De Anza Community College District’s College Open Textbooks Collaborativeaddresses the goal of textbook costs for community college students, a problem than can be a barrier to college success. The College Open Textbooks Collaborative, funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, has implemented a multifaceted strategy to increase adoption of open textbooks among community college faculty. Within a robust, Web-based participatory-learning community of pioneering faculty and students, the collaborative provides training for instructors adopting open resources; accessibility assurances and peer reviews of open textbooks; mentoring of authors opening their textbooks; research on factors that affect open textbook adoption; and advocacy support for other campus stakeholders in the adoption process.  The collaborative makes extensive use of free and low cost Web 2.0 tools to facilitate shared use of all training materials, peer reviews, and other collateral created by its members.

To focus its efforts on areas of greatest impact, the collaborative identified the top 40 community college courses with the highest enrollments nationwide. To date, more than 500 open textbooks have been identified and catalogued online in such disciplines as math, physics, chemistry, business, economics, and sociology. Nearly 100 of these open textbooks have undergone extensive peer review, and many have been reviewed for accessibility standards. Collaborative members include over 200 community colleges in the U.S. and Canada, several open educational resources (OER) repositories, educational researchers, and the OER Center for California, among others. Watch the video!

Sharyn Fitzpatrick,

College Open Textbooks Marketing
Una Daly, Associate Director, College Open Textbooks
Foothill-De Anza Community College District

KCTCS Online logoKentucky Virtual Campus’s KCTCS Online– Learn on Demand, a partnership of Kentucky Virtual Campus (KYVC) and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), is designed to provide working adult students with flexible access to “learn on demand” online courses and programs. Kentucky, like many states, has a statewide goal of increasing the number of bachelor’s degree holders and expanding upon program offerings that prepare students for the 21st century workforce requirements. Learn on Demand, formerly known as the Virtual Learning Initiative, features fully online courses that are modularized, self-paced, open-entry, and competency-based, with all content integrated into the learning management system, eliminating student expenditures for textbooks. Adult students can earn credit for prior knowledge, access a 24/7 online student services help desk, and sign learning contracts which detail their responsibility for succeeding in the Learn on Demand model. As part of KCTCS’s online organization, students have ready access to information concerning program requirements and course options, as well as exceptional support as they progress toward their educational goals.

The first programs launched include an associate degree in business administration, an associate degree in information technology, and certificates that address specific workforce needs.  Since its launch in April 2009, the program has experienced rapid enrollment growth, with 80 percent of its enrollees being new KCTCS students. Succeeding phases will expand offerings into additional areas of study, including nursing career pathway and transitional foundation courses in reading, writing, and math. Watch the video!

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
System Director, Distance Learning Technologies
Kentucky Community and Technical College System

Rio Salado College logoRio Salado College’s Peer-to-Peer Plagiarism Project detects plagiarism among its 41,000 online students, using exclusively internal staff and resources. The system is intended to deter cheating, which will greatly benefit students by helping to ensure the long-term value and integrity of Rio’s academic programs. As of March 2010, the system has scanned thousands of new student submissions and has detected 450 suspected cases of peer-to-peer plagiarism—cases that would almost certainly not have been detected using more traditional monitoring techniques. This is either because the two submissions were only a partial match – that is, one student changed a substantial portion of the text prior to submission – or because the two students were enrolled in different semesters or with different instructors. The system has also run consistently over time with extremely minimal downtime, which reflects its long-term stability.

Faculty and staff response to the plagiarism detector has been extremely positive. John Jensen, current Rio Salado faculty president, praised the new system: “The peer-to-peer plagiarism detection system is a key element in fortifying Rio Salado’s commitment to academic integrity. What is more, it reinforces in students the formation of ethical behavior and self-reliance as critical values in their character development and their learning as a personal responsibility. In the end we feel that this system supports authentication in the online learning environment that meets or exceeds the capabilities of the physical classroom.” Watch the video!

David Staudacher
Coordinator, Media Relations and Public Relations
Rio Salado College

Winona State University logoWinona State University’s Winona360 Civic Media Project is an interdisciplinary innovation laboratory for students, faculty, and information technology staff of the Winona, MN, region to learn and create in emerging media technology, while serving the area with news, information, education, and cultural expression. Winona360.org has been built on a conception of civic media. Civic media goes beyond the traditional journalism of news gathering and reporting and includes any form of communication (text, video, photography, virtual reality, gaming) by professionals and citizens alike that strengthens the social bonds within a community or fosters civic engagement among its residents. This concept integrates and extends information technology and multimedia in a regional learning community. Winona360.org is a community Website, made possible by collaborations between Winona State faculty and students, as well as partnerships with Saint Mary’s University, Southeast Technical College, and local high schools, which have come together through this project to create a community classroom.

As evidenced by the quantitative data and qualitative feedback, the truly significant outcome has been how much the community has embraced the need for a new media platform and how willing they have been to engage in it as a collaborative process between professional journalists, editors, students, faculty, and community members, all working to create a new civic media. In addition, the university, secondary schools, and community have embraced Winona360 and its model for civic media as a platform for new forms of teaching and engaged learning. Five Winona State faculty members have created a blog that they are using as a forum for interdisciplinary instruction and collaboration. Watch the video!

James Bowey
Founder, Winona360
Winona State University

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Editor, Winona360


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The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies(WCET) accelerates the adoption of effective practices and policies, advancing excellence in technology-enhanced teaching and learning in higher education. 


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