In this age, open source textbooks are fast becoming more popular as reference materials. It is not surprising that more universities and colleges are encouraging the use of open source materials for learning. These books are logically designed and produced with the ultimate benefits of students in the mind of publishers.
What exactly is an open source textbook? It is a format of school reference material that is published under a special open license. It is usually offered and facilitated through the Internet by its publisher or author. Publication and distribution of the book is usually under a commercial or non-profit open license.
From the publisher/author
Not all textbooks can be offered and distributed in the open source system. For one to be considered open, it should be appropriately licensed, which will grant rights to users/readers to access and use it beyond the standard copyright. Moreover, a license or special permission should be clearly stated or expressed by the publisher or author.
When a textbook is declared as an open resource, there are specific rights that are granted by the publisher or author to users/readers. First, the users are allowed to add, remove, or even modify some content of the book on the condition that the derivative work will use the same license. Second, users are given the freedom to copy and even distribute the reference material even without citing credit due to the publisher/author. Lastly, commercial use of the textbook is allowed.
Rights granted to users
As mentioned, special rights are provided to users/readers by the publisher or author. The license comes with a list of permissions that are clearly stated by the publisher/author. Generally, the permission to use the book without proper compensation for the author is provided.
There are other rights specified in such permissions. First, the user is allowed to copy the content of the book but with proper citation or credit given to the author or publisher. Second, non-commercial distribution of the material is allowed. Lastly, the rights to copy, replicate, and distribute the textbook into a new or another format is given.
An open source textbook is logically cheaper if not distributed for free. It is easier to use and can be passed around. Instructors and professors rave that the materials are editable to enable them to customize content to suit their subjects and curriculum. Of course, the books can work with adaptive technologies to possibly serve special needs particularly of disabled students/readers.
Image by HikingArtist.com