Open Education Info Center

Students: Searching and Using Open Textbooks

Many open textbooks initiatives have sprung up especially in North America with a strong support from the federal and local governments. Many surveys indicate that rising textbook costs have resulted in students not considering the textbook purchase as mandatory. Not having a textbook decreases learning outcome, thus making free and open textbooks an integral part of strengthening higher education.

Isn’t a digital textbook inconvenient to use? What’s good about using an open textbook provided online?

Many agree that it’s best that you download and print out the textbook. However, there are ways to use the pdf file to annotate and take notes to assist your learning a bit better. Here are videos from Chris Harrison, Associate Professor of Chemistry at San Diego State University on “Using a .pdf Textbook”.

Where can I find open textbooks?

Here are some of the open textbook projects where you can start browsing. Openstax offers free and open textbooks for colleges. You can see the list of institutions that are using openstax textbooks here.

You can also find textbooks at BC Campus Open Education site.

Open Textbook Library provides a list of textbooks from the network of universities participating in the movement.

College Open Textbooks

Utah Education Network has open textbooks for secondary level. You can find other resources as well.

These are not necessarily textbooks, but maybe you can find books to read for your English Literature course. Check out Gutenburg to download free books. Contents are in the public domain.

How does open textbooks work? Who guarantees quality?

Open Textbooks listed above are in large part funded projects. Textbooks are written by professors and teachers. Most projects have a peer review process to ensure quality of textbooks.