FlexBooks opensource textbooks using DocBook
- By Fabrice Talbot
Textbooks costs soared to such a level that colleges, student associations, publishers and lawmakers have been brainstorming over the last five years on how to reduce this burden on college students. A study (see below) investigating strategies to reduce textbook costs for students estimated that the textbook annual budget increased 20% a year since 2002 to reach $900 in 2006/2007.
Reducing the cost of textbooks should be one of the levers to be explored to make higher education more affordable to more people. And it should really be a priority.
One innovative non-profit company, CK-12, may just have the solution: allow teachers to build (free) custom textbooks by assembling modules of publicly available content. The published books (in PDF or other formats) are Flexbooks, and the application to build them is Flexr. Of course, we are interested as well because the project also involves a review process.
How is CK-12 able to pull off such flexibility in content creation, document revision and publication? By using DocBook. Basically CK-12 is bringing the power of single source to textbooks and putting it all in the hands of the teachers. Even better, you can download your Flexbook directly in the DocBook format!
What this means is that you can create a Flexbook to suit your class needs, download it from Flexr, and then plug it into LiveTechDocs to make the document revision efficient and convenient, working with a team of document collaboration companions such as other teachers, teaching assistants, or researchers. For free!
We hope CK-12 will be wildly successful and will contribute in making higher education more affordable. If LiveTechDocs can play a small part in this revolution, we'll gladly help. It would be a pleasure to use our online collaboration application for XML documentation review for this cause.