It is fun to think where we would be if we had the millions of dollars in funding that the free, and low cost, educational publishers have received. We are self-funded, and the investment doesn't come close to the funding given to OpenStax, Lumen Learning, and the other OER publishers. I am actually glad that we didn't have more money in the beginning because we would have wasted it. But now we are very efficient and the $5M or $10M the other publishers have received would go a long way with us; we probably have the highest return on investment of any of the small publishers And who would benefit the most if we had more funding? Students. Remember, we are the only publisher owned and operated by someone with over 30 years of experience in the higher education classrooms, who enjoys teaching developmental mathematics. We know our students, we are on their side; we want them to be successful. You can support us by using one of our textbooks in one of your classes.
I like OER, especially the Open part. I think some good things will come from the continued editing and refining of the products. Lumen learning has a good model for doing this. But the free part of OER is a myth. OER textbooks are not free; someone is paying for them. If the Gates Foundation donates money to OpenStax, that money didn't just appear in Bill Gates' saving account; lots of people bought computers and software, and Microsoft made money from it. On a smaller scale, if an instructor puts a book online for free, someone is paying for the computer the book was created on, and the server that displays the book. None of these Open Source, OER, or free textbooks are actually free.
Some people who support OER do so because they don't like the idea of publishers and authors benefitting financially from the educational materials they create. Do you think the employees at OpenStax are donating their time? Imagine how your travel budget compares to the person running OpenStax, or the OpenStax employees that attend the conferences you attend. Don't get me wrong, OpenStax is a good company, with an admirable mission, no one there is working for free.
When we started XYZ Textbooks our goal was to offer students a choice between reasonably priced eBooks and reasonably priced print books. (My inspiration was from my publisher at the time; they raised the price of my trigonometry book to over $300.) When we first started, our prices were lower than all the big publishers. If one of our books made it into the final three or four books for an open adoption, the other publishers in the group immediately lowered their prices. (We know this because the instructors at those schools told us.) So we had a effect on the price of textbooks, but we could not make our book free, or we would not be in business.
There is one downside to OER and the financing from big donors that is rarely talked about: If the small, independent publishers, like XYZ Textbooks, are eliminated because of OER, we may lose the innovation, drive, and mission that caused me to start XYZ Textbooks in the first place. Do you want the Gates Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, Barnes and Noble, and the other institutions that give money to OER, to decide what educational materials we will use in the future? They have their place in higher education, and they are making materials available to us that we would not otherwise have, but I don't think we want lose the small, independent publishers in the meantime.
How can you help? You can help support us, and the other small publishers, by using our materials in one section of one of your courses. Its that simple.
I just installed the Canvas App on my iPhone and now I can access the courses I am teaching in the Canvas Free for Teachers LMS. The trick is to input the school as canvas.instructure.com. I installed both the Canvas Teacher app and the Canvas Student app. That way I can see what my students see when they install the app. I think the courses look great on the phone.
Here is a link to a file explaining the process of getting the app and then logging in to your courses:
Installing and Using the Canvas App
Publishers are pushing students away from print and moving them to digital. But the research mentioned in the article below shows that students overwhelmingly say they learn better with print. I have said this before: My experience is that this difference is even more pronounced in mathematics, especially college developmental mathematics. Students never said they did not want print textbooks; they just didn't want to pay the high prices publishers were asking. Let's give our students a chance to buy print books at reasonable prices, and not force them into digital only. Here is the article:
2 reasons beyond prices that this merger of textbook publishers should worry every college student
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