Dixie Darr

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

In Learning Tools on June 15, 2009 at 11:19 am

The Textbook Racket and the Anti-Textbook Movement

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to dump textbooks and the $350 million annual expense in favor of online resources.

“Today,” he explains in his blog, “our kids get their information from the Internet, downloaded onto their iPods, and in Twitter feeds to their cell phones. A world of up-to-date information fits easily into their pockets and onto their computer screens. So why are California’s public school students still forced to lug around antiquated, heavy, expensive textbooks?”

Good question, but first, a quick disclaimer. Nobody loves books more than I do. My house is stuffed to the rafters with them, I visit my local library three-four times a week, and I read ten books a month. My problem is with textbooks.

Simply speaking, I think the textbook industry is a racket. The books are outrageously expensive and “updated” so frequently that used books are rarely an option. Even with regular revisions, they are frequently out-of-date by the time they are in print, and they are always static. I am also appalled by the giant backpacks students must lug around.

In an earlier post, I suggested that textbooks on Amazon’s Kindle made a lot of sense, if only for the portability.

Author and blogger Seth Godin called using textbooks “academic malpractice” and says he got more response to this post than any other post ever.

The governator concluded with the warning that “As the music and newspaper industries will attest, those who adapt quickly to changing consumer and business demands will thrive in our increasingly digital society and worldwide economy.”

The monopolistic textbook industry may have just priced itself out of existence. Maybe it’s time we start a movement.


In Degree programs, degrees without debt on June 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Tuition free colleges in USA

With all the talk about the high (and rising) cost of college, I was surprised to learn that a few colleges right here in the USA offer free tuition for a real, accredited education. Ranging from small liberal arts schools to highly specialized programs in engineering and music, these schools can be very competitive. They include the U.S. military academies, which trade a prestigious education for a subsequent stint in the military.

Other tuition-free colleges, such as Cooper Union in NYC, subsidizes students through large endowments. And some, like the College of the Ozarks, require students to participate in work-study programs to pay for their education.

For a complete list of these schools and their admissions requirements, see this slide show at Business Week.

In Degree programs, degrees without debt on June 8, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Looking for free tuition? Go to Sweden.

One way to save money on a college degree is to attend college in Sweden. Why Sweden? The government is so eager to attract foreign students and create a multicultural student body that they fully subsidize tuition fees. That’s right—tuition is free.

Classes are held in English, including more than 600 master’s degree programs, and many are offered online. Sweden is known for academic excellence and innovation. Click here for more information.