community of peopleAn open source textbook is one of the most preferred types of reference materials to date. Here are the common and unique features of these resources.

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.

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man holding an kindle with ebookeBooks are tougher to find online, compared to printed books. In this article, you can read about 2 very helpful sites that will find and compare prices for you.

eBooks are certainly becoming more and more popular with students and other book enthusiasts – mainly because of its portability and capability to store many different books at a time.

It is important to know that some eBook readers are also tied to eBookstores, so checking out which eBook reader to buy will also affect the prices of eBooks you can purchase. But keep accounts in different eBookstores in order to be able to be able to compare prices of eBooks. You can always find different applications that can read different formats of eBooks.

Here are some tools you can also use to help you more easily compare prices of eBooks:

  1. This website is a great tool to scour prices from popular eBookstores. In all, offers from 34 sources can be found here, from Kindle Store to iBookstore and even the free eBook sources like Project Gutenberg and Feedbooks. In order to start, simply input the title, name of author or any keyword. If you are looking for free books, you can simply tick on the box for free eBooks. This way, you might end up getting a copy of your eBook for free! Inkmesh will also show free books from these major eBookstores on its main page, so you can also maximize on the free offerings directly from the bookstore. Once you have started your search, you can see the available sources for the eBook, as well as the eBook readers that are compatible with the file, and a description of the book. You can also see the lowest price found for the title. Other features of Inkmesh include: narrowing the price range and even checking for other versions (for example, audiobooks) and devices compatible.
  2. This website is equally user-friendly like Inkmesh, with the capability to search for books by typing in the author’s name, title or the ISBN number of the book. Once you hit search, you can see results in groups – showing book series, authors or even suggestions of particular title. A good way to narrow down the list of suggestions is to type the full name of the author or the full title to find the most relevant results and avoid having to scour through a long list of results.

You can also view the available eBook formats available, as well as when the prices were last updated, just in case the prices changes. Although Inkmesh is faster and have more search options, Luzme is better at searching for eBooks compatible with eBook readers worldwide.

In short, cheaper eBooks can now be found more easily just by using these 2 sites and letting them do all the work for you!

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guy doing homework in front of computerIn this day and age, college textbooks have risen significantly in price, making it more of a burden to students nowadays. This article is recommended for students who are looking for steps on comparing textbook prices.

It is both a blessing and an added burden to students that college textbooks can now be purchased not just in neighborhood bookstores, but also in online websites selling books. However, with the many options that students have when it comes to buying textbooks, they also have to spend more time looking for the best deals on books. Otherwise, they end up spending full price on brand-new textbooks. In this time or economic uncertainty, this is not the wisest option students can take.

If you are a student on the search for the cheapest college textbook to buy, to not pay for books that are increasingly becoming more expensive every year, here are some ways to compare prices of books around:

  1. Find out the price of a brand new textbook. This is the first step in comparing prices – knowing the full price. This is your benchmark price when you start looking for other options. Just make sure you check your neighborhood bookstore, since you tend to save money from shipping fees. If you are also usually the type to buy new books and then resell them, then you know how much you need to pay for them.
  2. Check out for free books. With the proliferation of online books, free digital editions are sometimes available for download. Before considering buying your own copy of the book, check if there are free copies available for you. This will end up saving you a lot of money. Otherwise, check out how much digital versions will cost – and include that in your comparison of prices.
  3. Find out the cost of renting. If you don’t want to buy your own copy and have to resell the book at the end of the semester, then look into renting textbooks. Look for sites that offer rentals, plug in the dates you need the books for, and check how much they will cost you.
  4. Check if used college textbooks are cheaper. Look at neighborhood used bookstores for prices and compare them with ones you can buy online. These prices are also good to remember if you are considering reselling your books at the end of the semester. Then you can then compute for the final price of your books.
  5. Use websites that will do the comparing for you. There are lots of websites nowadays that will look for great deals on college textbooks online, as well as compare prices. Make sure you plug in your zip code, in order to also account for shipping costs.

Do your homework if you want to find the cheapest college textbooks. Not only can you find the best option for you, but you can also save a lot of money.

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man with stacks of paper on table and bookEducators can now opt to make their own textbooks if they think doing so will be more effective. Here are the three basic procedures that make up this process.

Professors and teachers can now opt to create their own textbooks. It surely is a daunting and tedious task but current availability of high-quality and accurate materials across the Internet can make it more possible. They can even tap personal and professional learning networks to gather more materials. You probably have heard about iBooks Author but, hey, there are other options, too, and most of them open source.

It is a fact that not all textbooks available in the market are appropriate for specific courses in certain locations. If a reference material is published in a country, some content may not be applicable in another nation. Moreover, the learning process, competency, and preferences may also differ. That is why it is important to know the basics of making textbooks so that educators can now have the power to control the learning flow in the courses they teach.

The basic process of creating a textbook in the modern times can be divided into three parts. First, there is aggregation followed by curation before actual creation of the book is pursued.


The first step in the process involves gathering of information sources. In typical book writing, this is equivalent to making necessary research. Aggregating content to be included in a customized or self-made textbook can now be done using social bookmarking tools, which fortunately abound.

When in this process, it is advisable to find and choose a bookmarking tool that allows educators to highlight important features within texts as well as images. Comments can be written directly on initial Web pages. This will facilitate collaborating and sharing resources with other educators.


After collection of information to be used or included in the textbook, curation follows. This is the process that requires deeper analysis of aggregated content. Through this, the relevant information that matters about specific topics can be properly and appropriately selected. Curation can also involve editing and summarizing intricate topics into enjoyable and consumable information that students can easily appreciate and digest.

In this process, educators are advised to constantly check subject area syllabus and stick to it. Learning objectives and state standards should be set to design the flow of study. Special modern tools or applications can now be used to make curation easier.


Of course, this process is considered the most fun and important part of making textbooks. It is time to design and then share how curated resources will be presented and used in a class. There is a need to organize resources and content neatly and in an organized manner.

Specific questions can serve as effective guide during the creation of textbooks process. Those include the following:

  • How will learners use the information?
  • How can learning be demonstrated?
  • What assessments can be used?

After carefully thinking about the answers to these, creation of the textbooks can proceed. The process can take some time to complete but it will surely be worth it for the educators and for the learners.

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stacks of textbooksChoosing textbooks is a difficult task; caution should be employed. The course content and edition has a big role in influencing the textbook selection process.

Ordering textbook is a very difficult task both for faculties and students alike. As different courses in different semesters require a lot of reading, obtaining textbooks is not simply an option but really a requirement. Faculty members of universities and colleges have the liberty to choose a textbook for the class; chances are the textbook selection process will be influenced by the course content and scope. Some teaching personnel or professors have delayed instruction as regards the appropriate college textbook for a course. This delay is caused by various factors.

The common controversy with textbook selection is the lack of information. Simply put, when you have not decided on which textbook to use; then there is surely lack of information. To avoid delays in selecting an appropriate textbook for a course, it is a must to put the topics that you want to discuss in perspective. The topics that will be discussed are indicated in the syllabus which will carry weight in prescribing a textbook.

There is also further controversy when conducting textbook selection. Though the book has been selected, you might have difficulties in choosing the edition most suitable for your classes. In the fields of literature or history, this is entirely challenging since some texts or readings are printed in various editions. If you have chosen a textbook already, sifting through the editions should be the next step. If the textbook contains readings that are not in line with course content; this would develop classroom problem which results to a textbook selection controversy.

Nevertheless, there is always urgency in obtaining textbooks as this will dictate the direction and progress of the class. Ordering the chosen textbook at the soonest possible time will allow the printers to provide the expected amount of copies for a certain market. Placing an order soon will allow you to deal with expected problems earlier. Problems such as the lack of copies and erroneous content can be corrected when this is raised to the publishers.

To solve controversial problems in handling textbooks, there is a need to choose textbooks well for a certain course. If the materials shows signs of inadequacy and sometimes errors, this will have an adverse effect on the reader. Through various titles and editions, surely a textbook will be fit for a certain purpose. In order not to have disagreements in this area, you should be keen in selecting the most appropriate one.

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wikiotics foundation logoThe Wikiotics Foundation has launched a new project called the Last Language Textbook. The new endeavor aims to develop more open source materials (in English language) that will be accessible to more users worldwide.

The Wikiotics Foundation has launched the Last Language Textbook, a public campaign aimed at building customizable and widely available textbooks in English language. The project is still part of the nonprofit organization’s commitment to make reference materials in various languages freely available online. It will take new English students to the first levels of language fluency, as categorized by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

The organization has started asking volunteers to participate in the endeavor. Participation is through creation of lessons, organization of existing materials, and recording of audio sentences. All outputs will be posted and made accessible through Creative Commons license, which is currently used in operating Wikipedia.

Last Language Textbook campaign will last from June to December 2012. During the same period, the Wikiotics Foundation is set to develop curriculum, still through the participation of partners and volunteers from different parts of the world. As planned, a summit to be held in New York City will culminate the project.

Building open source learning materials

The Wikiotic Foundation believes that building effective, flexible, and accessible resources is the only way to reach the most students from various educational and economic backgrounds. The project will use the group’s collaboration tools and techniques to build a collection of significant resources that will eventually make non-open English reference materials obsolete.

The organization encourages both educators and students to participate in customization of their learning materials. It also wants them to share the results of their endeavors to the rest of the academic community through interactive platforms. The collaborative activity can be coursed through newly developed software designed specifically to cater to the requirements of language educators and students.

The organization is firm on its belief that course materials for learning should adapt to the ever-changing needs of all parties involved in the learning process. Its tools and resources are aimed at empowering rather than restricting educators in customization of content. Through that, a new educational technology will be able to meet as well as exceed usefulness and effectiveness of traditional instructional resources.

Reaching more people

To date, there are more than two billion people who have Internet access, according to the International Telecommunication Union. Logically, demand for English instruction in learning has also increased in line with increasing connectivity. A separate report in 2009 by the British Council has estimated that the number of people globally who desire to learn English as a second language already exceeds 600 million.

It is expected that as the number of online users continues to further increase globally, demand for free online textbooks will be greater than demand for traditional books. The Wikiotics Foundation aims to take advantage of that expectation. The project is obviously part of that goal.

cat in bookshelfIf you are looking for the must-read books for 2012, then here’s the list for you. This article also gives you an idea of what these books are about.

2012 is the year to have your reading list laid out and start re-reading the books you stopped reading and stuck in your shelf. If you still don’t have a list ready, we’ve prepared some for you to consider. Here we go.

  1. A Good American
    Author: Alex George
    Why Read? : This novel revolves around an immigrant family searching for a new life away from their homeland. The story is filled with love and heartbreak, tragedy and success, and reveals the strong beliefs and passion that define a true American.
  2. No One Is Here Except All of Us
    Author: Ramona Ausubel
    Why Read? : This imaginative novel paints the tale of a Romanian village where Jews live during the Second World War. The hiding Jews, tired of running away and evading the Nazis, use the power of imagination to escape the reality they live in.
  3. Steve Jobs
    Author: Walter Isaacson
    Why Read? : There is no one in this generation that doesn’t know Steve Jobs and the products that he created. This book is a biography of this genius who revolutionized technology in the 21st century.
  4. When I Was a Child I Read Books
    Author: Marilynne Robinson
    Why Read? : Robinson has released several widely popular books like Housekeeping and Gilead. In this book, she unpacks different intellectual and moral debates for modern Americans, with her points supporting classic liberalism, education and rights, as well as capitalism.
  5. Perks of Being a Wallflower
    Author: Stephen Chbosky
    Why Read? : This simply written book tells the story of a 15 year-old high school introvert. Through his eyes and experiences teach readers life lessons and being more appreciative of what you have in your life.
  6. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
    Author: Anna Quindlen
    Why Read? : The story revolves around a woman who is never content, despite having lots of candles and plenty of cake. Her story mirrors other people’s lives and guides people to discovering what is truly important in life.
  7. The Millenium Series ( The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest)
    Author: Stieg Larsson
    Why Read? : This series of books is intensely popular, but is not for the faint of heart. The stories take place in Sweden, and revolve around politics, privilege, wealth, violence and crime drama.
  8. Unbroken
    Author: Laura Hillenbrand
    Why Read? : An extraordinary story of a World War II veteran, Louis Zamperini; he was rescued and then held as a prisoner-of-war by the Japanese. He chronicles his survival and the strength of the human spirit to remain unbroken even in such circumstances.
  9. Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America
    Author: Jeff Ryan
    Why Read? : Nintendo was one of the top gaming companies from the 80s. This book reviews their very humble beginnings and how they rose to be at the top of the gaming industry.
  10. The Fault in Our Stars
    Author: John Green
    Why Read? : A touching and sweet love story of two teenagers who battled cancer at young ages. A tearjerker, this book also shines hope despite the bleakest of days.
  11. The Amateur
    Author: Edward Klein
    Why Read? : This book highlights the lapses of America’s current president, Barack Obama. This politically-charged book shows exactly how unfit he is to head the world’s largest economy.
  12. The Tools
    Author: Barry Michels and Phil Stutz
    Why Read? : This self-help book helps anyone wanting to change his or her life. Five very common life problems are identified as well as the four tools that will help you solve them.
  13. Incendiary
    Author: Chris Cleave
    Why Read? : This intensely emotional book takes on war in a societal and individual view. A story of an ordinary low-class woman in London, she writes to Osama bin Laden, the head of Al Qaeda, after learning that her husband and son were killed in a suicide bombing.
  14. The Black Dahlia
    Author: James Ellroy
    Why Read? : A crime novel, an unsolved murder eventually leads to obsession. This haunting and compelling tale is full of lies and betrayals, frauds and deception and corruption.
  15. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
    Author: Mark Haddon
    Why Read? : This book is the story of an autistic boy, telling the world about his world: the pain, honest experiences and perspective on the world.

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college textbooksFinding the best textbooks can be easy and inexpensive. This article gives college students some suggestion to get the books they need for the semester.

So you need to find your textbooks this coming semester, we’re spelling out a list of tips to help you make the best judgment in finding or buying your textbooks.

  1. Shop books online. Online shopping is becoming more and more popular due to its convenience. Students can take advantage of online bookstores and look for those with the cheapest textbooks for sale. A number of reputable e-bookstores sell second hand books which are comparatively cheaper than new ones. Just be patient enough to compare prices and book condition from each of the e-bookstores. Depending on your budget and preference, you can opt to buy newer books in better condition, but they cost more than books with highlights, minor wear, or stains.
  2. Go digital. Many textbooks are already available in their digital formats. These e-books can be downloaded from the internet for free or for a minimal charge only. Look for the correct title, author, year, and edition to make sure you have the exact book you need.
  3. Buy textbooks from previous students. This might be the wisest step you can take in order to get the best books you need for the semester. Buying second hand college books from previous students who took the same class under the same professor can guarantee you that those books are exactly what you need (unless the professors have revised their required readings list). You can bargain for a low price and you do not need to pay for shipping costs. If you do not personally know any student who once took the classes you are now taking, you can easily post announcements on campus bulletin boards, or even social networking sites.
  4. Consider the older edition of the book. Ask your professors if they would allow you to use the older edition of the textbooks they require you to read. The contents of the new edition may not be very different from the old ones (most of the time, the major difference are the layout and page numbers only), but the price disparity is huge. By using older edition college books, you can keep up with your class’ pace without spending a lot.
  5. Rent books. Your professors will require you to have certain books which you will not read in its entirety. Sometimes, all you need are a couple of particular chapters which you will discuss for one or two weeks. You can resort to rentals for this kind of books. Renting college books are cheaper than buying them (even buying second hand books), and you do not have to worry about having to resell the books after you use them.

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kindle readerOne emerging debate is whether eBooks are more environment-friendly than printed books. With contrasting studies made, there is no clear conclusion – instead one solution works best for those who read a lot, which may not be green for those who only seldom pick up books.

Books are now becoming digital, with the development of eBook readers and even smart phones that have the ability to view digital versions of books. Some people feel that this technological advancement is for the better – since no more trees will be cut down to produce paper for books.

However, eBook readers are still digital devices that consume electricity, and therefore are not completely green and environment-friendly. Comparing between the carbon footprint of printed books and eBooks, which of the two is greener? Here are some interesting studies and facts:

  • One printed book’s carbon footprint is about 8.85 pounds of Carbon dioxide (CO2) produced. Every year, around 30 million trees are cut down to produce books in the US. On average, 25-36% of books produced are unsold and returned to publishers to be incinerated.
  • A study made by Cleantech Group of San Francisco compares the carbon footprint if you purchase 3 books per month for four years. They found that each Kindle’s carbon footprint is about 168 kilograms of Carbon dioxide (CO2) for its whole lifecycle – from production, packaging and battery recharging. When it comes to printed books, that sums up to a total of 1,074 kg of Carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Other studies (one by The New York Times) show different results: that when you factor in the carbon footprint of an eBook reader, one year of reading eBooks is five times greater than a year’s worth of printed books. However, with continuous use of the same eBook reader – five years or 32.5 books, you can match the ecological footprint of reading the same number of printed books the old fashioned way.
  • It is estimated that eBook readers are replaced every two years, which might increase greatly the carbon footprint of eBooks. An estimated 20% of eBook readers also sit unused after a few days. Those who are anti-eBooks also point out that eBook readers are made of materials that are toxic and non-recyclable, which is less environment-friendly than paper.

There are conflicting and often manipulated data to either support or bring down eBook readers. One thing is for sure: for book junkies, eBooks are greener if you download and read a lot of books, which means saving a lot of trees from being cut down for printed books. Otherwise, if you only read a few books a year, then maybe it is more environment-friendly to stick to printed books.

Image by Mike Licht,