Open Source Text books

On the last show, we talked about Apple’s iBooks Author. I’m interested in exploring this option. My first thought was that we could take an open source textbook, convert it using iBooks Author and return it to the community. I think that this would have a lot of potential. I would love to find an appropriate open source middle school math (with the appropriate Creative Commons licensing), that we play around with.

The idea would be to create an improved version of the book and return it to the community.

I’ve found some books that are great at the University level. Most of the books that I have found are available in pdf format. This makes the file size smaller and does allow for portability, but it does make editing difficult. (Yes, I know that pdf’s can be converted, we’ve talked about the tools).

So far, I have found books through the CK12. However, these are either epubs or pdfs. Neither is particularly easy to edit. CK12 does provide editing functions, though this seems to be a more advanced feature and results in a pdf hosted on their site.

After a little bit of playing around, I’ve discovered that you need to create chapters within Pages or Word. These can then be imported directly into iBooks Author as Chapters.

For my first test, I downloaded a book from CK12. I then converted the pdf to rtf. Next, I added some formatting to the document (Title, Heading 1, etc.). As noted above, I think that I would need to split the document up into discrete chapters in Pages.

From my small test, admittedly just playing around for an hour or so, it seems that it is doable. It would take some planning and prep work, but it doesn’t seem to be a monstrous task.

I’ll need to get with a math person to see how good the instruction is through the book. However, this would seem to be a possibility. If you know of some good resources, especially good open source textbooks, please let me know. Post a comment, or send an email.


This is cross posted on my Professional Learning Network Site.