Monday, July 24, 2006

Informational: Wikis Challenging the Textbook Industry
By Daniel Terdiman Staff Writer, CNET
Published: September 28, 2005, 4:00 AM PDT

As I wrote in my commentary above (Books vs Computers, Where Do You Stand?) , there are other and better ways of getting texts into the hands of students. Many publishers are selling subscriptions to their texts. For a fee, students have access to a text for a specified time frame. Chapters can be read online or printed out, as needed. Advantages include having up to date texts available, and updates can be done at any time. Did a country change its name? Has a new leader been elected? Publishers can update their product immediately.

The link attached to this post is an article by Daniel Terdiman from CNET News entitled Wikibooks Takes On Textbook Industry. "A project called Wikibooks aims to create an open-ended curriculum that would offer a free and freely licensable alternative to traditional textbooks."
"The hope is that by turning the Wikibooks keys over to a worldwide community of writers and editors, the project will eventually contain tens of thousands of books and smaller entries on a wide range of topics. In each case, the idea is that any Wikibooks reader could create his or her own book or make edits to an existing title.
Wales explained that the Wikibooks authors--whom he calls "volunteers"--are professionals from many fields, college and graduate students and professors. "All sorts of geeky people, basically," he said.
Today, Wikibooks contains 11,426 submissions. The topics covered range from biology to economics in New Zealand. Because the books are digital and open source, any teacher can decide to assign one and simply point students to PDFs they can print. "

Interesting? Yes, but it is too soon to tell the level of success it will have. It's worth reading about though. Check out Wikiversity: which is a source for Wikibooks. They list as their priorities and goals:

Create and host a range of free learning resources for educational processes, for all age groups in all languages
Form projects to interface with, (ie develop) existing Wikimedia projects (eg. finding sources project for Wikipedia)
Host and foster research based in part on existing resources in Wikiversity and other Wikimedia projects (such as Wikibooks, Wikisource etc.)

However texts are written and distributed in the future, one thing is certain: things are certainly changing. Diplomacy may or may not be the answer for bringing peace to the world. Perhaps technology can help bridge the gap.