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Saylor Foundation Names Open Textbook Challenge Winners

Saylor Foundation has selected three college textbooks to be added to its lineup of free online courses through the Open Textbook Challenge. Each author will receive $20,000, and the textbooks are available through a creative commons license.

The texts are now available for use by students and instructors at saylor.org.

The winners of the contest are:

"These textbooks could save students lots of money," said Kuttler. "But, another advantage of books in this form is that they are easy to improve. I think there is no such thing as a perfect book, only convergence toward perfection, which is achieved
more easily with this format than with the traditional approach of multiple editions."

Bonaventure explained that research shows information freely available to the public has a stronger impact. "The same will be true for educational material. Based on my experience, the utilization of an online resource with the students has had a very positive impact on the students by allowing them to easily explore the textbook topic further with hypertext links to various references," Bonaventure said.

The rules for the contest, run by the nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide free education included, are that the textbook must:

  • Cover one of the topics included in the Saylor curricula in its entirety;
  • Be written for an undergraduate audience;
  • Be original and free of plagiarism;
  • Include a list of sources and references;
  • Be submitted in .doc, .docx, .pdf, or .odt formats;
  • Already be completely edited; and
  • Be written in standard English.

In addition, entrants must sign an Open Textbook Challenge Submission Agreement, which requires them to license, or relicense, the textbook under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

"By releasing openly licensed textbooks that also align with the free courses we've made available on Saylor.org, we aim to help alleviate the financial stress that students face when having to purchase these books as well as provide more students with access to quality higher educational resources that otherwise might not be available to them," said Alana Harrington, director of the Saylor Foundation.

Applications for the first wave of funding were accepted through Nov. 1, 2011, and entries are being accepted for the foundation's next Challenge through May 31. Winners for that contest will be announced Sept. 30.

To apply, or for more information, go to the Saylor Foundation Web site.

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