So You Want a Free Textbook? Try Writing Commons

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Ever since I entered higher learning, costly textbooks have been a constant contributor to my agony and frustration. As a student, I could never avoid one or two classes every semester (if I’m that lucky) for which I have to burn my wallet to buy these monstrous-sized textbooks, printed in full color, that are only used when I’m cramming for tests. So as I slowly transition into teaching, I pay close attention to the texts I assign to my classes. And when I do assign multiple textbooks for a class, I strive to make every penny worth the spend: I try my best to integrate them in class lectures, discussions, and activities, not just asking the students to read them at home.

However, there are times when I wished the texts were more up-to-date and adaptable. I would love to use a text that is regularly updated and revised for most recent content. Especially when it comes to topics of technology and current issues, the way the publishing industry operates is just not compatible with the needs of the classroom. This is why I opt for online textbooks like Writing Commons.

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On top of fresh contents, Writing Commons is free for all users. The idea of a free open text stems from the open educational resource (OER) movement, a shift from the traditional for-profit publishing into making pedagogical materials free and available over the WWW. For faculty members, we have the assurance for quality content as all submissions to Writing Commons are reviewed by a credible review board made up of honorable scholars from the field of composition studies. Read here to find out more reasons to adopt Writing Commons and what impact it has been for college writing.

I admire the efforts put in by the Writing Commons staff and would do my best to support this positive endeavor.

Getting a Foreign Education for Free*

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MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are not only a valuable platform for aspiring students to get a taste of ivy league education, they are also an alternative for professional development. As I continue to study the benefits of this 21st century pedagogical movement and its impact on global education, it is my hope to help introduce these learning opportunities to my fellow friends in Malaysia.

Thanks, @Junemoh and The Heat, for the feature. Read the story in full PDF here.

*Of course, there’s a distinction to make: saying MOOCs are free is only a puffery; nothing is truly free. To excel in MOOCs, one must devote him/herself to serious learning. This means spending an adequate amount of time in watching the video lectures and completing the assignments, while interacting meaningfully with a network of learners in the online community. The ticket to the ride is free, the rest is up to you.