Massive online textbooks

Nieuws | de redactie
14 mei 2013 | MOOC giant Coursera starts pilot programs with several education publishers to provide students with free e-textbooks. Student benefit, since they can use the needed content for free as long as the course takes. Publishers as well see new opportunities to develop better learning materials and sell more.

The course materials from a range of publishers, including Macmillan, Oxford University Press and SAGE and Wiley, would be available through e-readers from student-services company Chegg. MOOC students will not be able to print or download the content of these textbooks, but they will be freely accessible during the length of the course.

Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller explained that these textbooks will be a significant benefit for a global learning community. “So many of our students really can’t afford the price of a textbook. For many, even a $30 or $40 e-book is the cost of a month or two of wages.”

E-textbooks in MOOCs are not completely new, MITx offered textbooks before in its ‘Global Poverty‘ course. The MIT branch of edX, underwrites the strong democratizing power of MOOCs and offers students from around the globe to a variety of learning materials. Textbooks and video’s in online courses supplement each other and address different types of learners. 

Lift burden from teachers

Koller said the agreement will help instructors who felt restricted in what they could require students to read. She also said it will help publishers to market full versions of their books to students interested in buying them. It will lift a “really significant burden” from instructors who want to use these textbook sources directly instead of trying to distill ideas for their Coursera classes.

Another benefit for publishers will be worldwide, anonymized usage statistics from large numbers of students. “We’re not giving them identifiable student data, but we can give them usage statistics sliced by demographic data, if we have it,” Koller said to Informationweek, noting that this global data will be valuable to the publishers as they refine their current products and design new ones.


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