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The Open Textbook Challenge

Note: The Open Textbook Challenge is now closed, but we invite you to read on to see what we accomplished and how you can still contribute.

About the OTC
The Saylor Foundation’s Open Textbook Challenge sought to find, develop, and release textbooks that are well-aligned to the free online courses offered at Saylor.org. From October 2011, we released five college-level textbooks under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licenses:

Linear Algebra: Theory and Applications  (Kenneth Kuttler)
Mathematical Analysis I  (Elias Zakon)
Elementary Linear Algebra  (Kenneth Kuttler)
Computer Networking: Principles, Protocols, and Practice  (Oliver Bonaventure)
An Introductory Course in Elementary Number Theory  (Wissam Raji)

[All PDF; additional formats available at the Saylor Bookshelf]

For each book, the Saylor Foundation provided a $20,000 award to the author(s) to support the alignment and re-licensing of the work.

Why seek out open texts?
According to the College Board, the average college student at a four-year public school spends over $1,000 for textbooks each year.  This means that in just America alone, the total cost for course materials is in the billions of dollars.  These high costs greatly affect students’ access to education, with 7 of 10 students reporting that cost has led them to decide not to purchase a required textbook.

Students need cost-free alternatives, and some great options are out there…book by book, professor by professor, state by state, word is getting out.

What can you do?
Seek out free and open textbooks.
We’ve got our bookshelf, and there are plenty of other individuals and organizations gathering and developing high-quality materials. Wikipedia maintains a page on open textbooks with a list of projects; Open SUNY has a program, and Student PIRGs is driving forward on their Make Textbooks Affordable initiative. If you’re a teacher, commit to using open textbooks in your classroom. If you’re a student, ask your teacher if you can pilot the use of a free alternative textbook. Much of the time, busy people simply don’t know that good, free options exist.

If you know about an open textbook that isn’t on our site, let us know! We’re always looking to develop and improve our resources.