Copyright Wants You to Become an Open Textbook Bounty Hunter

Whether an individual is an advocate of free open education resources (OER), thinks textbooks cost too much or both, they may want to take part in The Saylor Foundation's Open Textbook Challenge, which is looking to find books to use with its free course. And even better than aiding the open education movement? The possibility of winning a bounty of money for helping.

By Jessica Lyons

The Saylor Foundation

Founded in 1999, The Saylor Foundation began focusing on free education in 2008 because, according to the organization's website, it believes 'that everyone, everywhere should have access to a college education.' Describing itself as a 'zero-cost alternative' to attending college, the foundation offers more than 200 online undergraduate level courses that are free of charge. The foundation says that its courses are accessed by individuals in 135 countries. logo

Open Textbook Challenge

In an effort to collect materials to use in its many courses, The Saylor Foundation has launched its Open Textbook Challenge and is encouraging anyone to submit a textbook that they have written and to which they hold the rights. According to the foundation, 'with this challenge, our aim is to license texts that could be utilized for free by educators and students around the world.'

Submitted textbooks must cover the material in one of the foundation's eligible courses, which are in the subjects of art history, biology, business management, chemistry, computer science, economics, English literature, history, mathematics, mechanical engineering, philosophy, physics, political science and psychology. A specific list of classes is available on the foundation's website.

Even if you aren't the author of a textbook, you can still take part in the challenge. The foundation is also asking people to go to the challenge's Web page to get their own referral link, which they can then post on Facebook or Twitter.

Awards of $20,000 will be given to authors whose textbooks are accepted following a screening and peer review process. Bounties worth $250 each will also be awarded to individuals who refer someone whose textbook is accepted.

The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2001. However, if you miss this deadline, the foundation will be doing a second round with a deadline of January 31, 2012 and a third round that will require submissions to be received by May 31, 2012.


Why Textbooks?

Considering the always-increasing cost of textbooks, it's easy to see why The Saylor Foundation is focusing on getting free materials for its learners to use. According to College Board, college students can spend as much as $1,000 a year on their books, which is an expense some just can't afford. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by of more than 1,200 students, almost half said that they just don't buy all of the required materials for their courses because of the cost. Helping students access free textbooks is another way to ensure that everyone has a shot at an education without money being a barrier.

Surprised that textbooks are so expensive that there's a need for free resources? Find out about the market forces that could be causing these high prices.

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