TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Department of Education hires experts to produce and maintain public domain textbooks - potentially saving billions in education per year

The textbook industry is a $30 billion a year industry.

If the department of education simply hired subject matter experts, over the course of a year, their combined efforts should easily be able to produce quality textbooks. They could also act as managing editors and receive contributions from educators all around the world as a means of updating and improving content quality.

The books would be free to use, download, copy, print, or even edit and modify as each state and school district sees fit. As just one idea of how it could work, They could use low cost tablets that are loaned to students. Another way might be to have the Dept of Education print them up and distribute them at cost to the schools. The possibilities are endless.

If they produced 100 of the most common textbooks used, with 3 subject matter experts per book each earning $100K a year, the cost to produce and maintain up to date, free text books would be only $30 million a year. If we include a pool of graphic artists, photographers, writers, editors and management, we are looking at maybe $40 million per year. Almost 1000 times less than buying commercially produced textbooks..

Any thoughts? Ideas for improvement? Potential pitfalls?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 11 2013: Great Idea, my only concern is the ability of a state or district to modify and attenuate the material. Not everything needs to be consigned to a profit margin.
    • Jan 11 2013: I agree that profit isn't necessarily the motive of government...but It can still save them money...Can well written text books in the public domain give local government a good starting point from a free perspective, and meet there needs in a cost saving way?? Your thoughts?
      • thumb
        Jan 11 2013: So long as the material in the text books remains relevant and current, which seems to be the intent of your proposal, then certainly, not to mention the side effect of saving some trees….wink

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.