With college students spending, on average, over $1,100 per year on course materials, the drive to develop and use open textbook alternatives to traditional publisher releases is growing.
One issue in their adoption though has been quality control.
Enter the University of Minnesota with a plan to provide a growing catalog of peer reviewed books. Via Inside Higher Ed:
Minnesota launched an online catalog of open-source books last month and will pay its professors $500 each time they post an evaluation of one of those books. (Faculty members elsewhere are welcome to post their own reviews, but they won’t be compensated.) Minnesota professors who have already adopted open-source texts will also receive $500, with all of the money coming from donor funds.
The project is meant to address two faculty critiques of open-source texts: they are hard to locate and they are of indeterminate quality. By building up a peer-reviewed collection of textbooks, available to instructors anywhere, Minnesota officials hope to provide some of the same quality control that historically has come from publishers of traditional textbooks…
…The goal of the Minnesota database is to curate texts in a way that empowers instead of frustrating professors. Material posted in the catalog must have an open license, be a complete book, have a print version and be adoptable outside the author’s institution. Minnesota isn’t creating any of the books, just assembling the best of what’s been published elsewhere. The catalog includes texts from Rice University, which launched a series of peer-reviewed open-source books earlier this year.
There are currently about 90 books in the catalog in subjects ranging from history to law to math and economics.