Textbooks, Virtual Labs and Open Source Books
Reducing Costs for ICT Majors
Though most of my discussions are of ICT in nature, we have recently been discussing textbooks, virtual labs and open source books. The discussion is regarding how publishers are combining their labs to textbooks for a profit where we have an opportunity for free to student solution that can be expanded to other disciplines. Below are a few strains of conversation that you might find of interest. I plan to post an article regarding this on our regional website, is there anything else you would like to add?
Paula Hodge: I was in a conversation with a faculty member in my region and was informed that publishers have started to incorporate virtual labs that align to the text for an additional $20 of the book cost. They are hitting the Community Colleges faculty hard on this concept via calls, mailings, and on-site visits. The student who purchases used books would be at a disadvantage as they would have to pay a fee around $135. In my opinion, this is not in the best interest of the student or faculty to have their labs specifically tied to a published book however, faculty may see this as a solution.
Dan Watanabe (LA): In total agreement with Paula on this. Having worked for Pearson at one point in my career (before they sold off TV which became FremantleMedia) there is no question as to how they view this sort of stuff. It was highly enlightening to learn that only 35% of publisher revenue came from traditional bookstores and hand selling (this was early in the Amazon days). 65% was from academic publishing and they were quite proud of the fact that they had just convinced DOE that text books should not be usable after five years. No matter what the subject. In fact when they were purchasing Simon & Schuster they did their best to close down the traditional publishing side. By the way, this also includes medical and law journals.
Richard Grotegut (Netlab+ guru and WASTC): Hi Paula, Yes. There are going to be alternatives for what is a growing market and need. Here's a message I sent out to our BACCC NETLAB group early this month: A matter of equity I think there will inevitably be resources like Infosec Learning (https://infoseclearning.com/ ) that will come up with lab options to compete with NETLAB. These options pass the cost onto the student. The cost is significant. The IL labs are over $100 per student when sold through campus bookstores. Combining this with tuition fees and the cost of a textbook and it is over $400 per class.
I think, from an equity standard, we need to make the point of NETLAB's cost effectiveness. Students don't have to pay for the labs. Additionally Infosec Learning only has a small amount of content currently available (Security+ and Ethical Hacking). We currently have close to 600 labs available on our NETLAB system right now. with more to come. One of the sessions at the FDW up at Rocklin will be on content development for NETLAB. Specifically we will be producing Windows 10 labs.