Friday, November 23, 2012

One of the attacks on higher education

Even with the vast changes in technology colleges and universities operate much the same as they did fifty years ago, but at much higher prices.  The costs have climbed faster than inflation year after year. 

Free Textbooks Spell Disruption for College Publishers explores how the exploding cost of textbooks may be brought into a more rational range. The article starts with:

Ask Ariel Diaz why he's taking on the college textbook industry and he'll tell you, "Quaternions."

Quaternions are a number system used for calculating three-dimensional motion, popular in computer graphics. And Diaz needed a crash course to help him with a consulting gig after his online video platform startup, Youcastr, had failed. He started with Wikipedia and found it was surprisingly good at explaining this complicated mathematics.

Diaz, who still resents how much he'd paid for textbooks in college and graduate school, realized he'd hit on his next business idea. In 2011, he started Boundless Learning, a Boston company that has begun giving away free electronic textbooks covering college subjects like American history, anatomy and physiology, economics, and psychology.

Textbook publishers can change $200 for a book because they have a locked in market.  The students have few other choices.  But there is no reason why the information can't be provided to the students at lower prices.  It will be interesting to see if Ariel Diaz can provide a viable alternative.

1 comment:

Fatcat said...

We've been pretty lucky getting my son's books cheap/used using DealOz. I remember losing my geology book early in the semester when I was in college and checking out a different geology book to use every 2 weeks for the rest of the time. I got an A. :-)