Open Source Materials and Textbooks

wikilogoIf you’re a student in the twenty-first century, you’ve probably wondered why professors even bother to require a textbook. After all, the amount of knowledge available online is astounding, abundant, and free. Why don’t academic professionals simply assign open source materials for the courses they teach?

Open Source originally started as a term used to refer to license-free software with freely shared and modified source code. Developers are able to share and collaborate on the software code. Now, the term is used widely to mean shareable data that is available for use, free from restrictive copyright or licensing. Sites such as Wikipedia or Khan Academy are great examples of open source in action.

So what’s wrong with using open source materials in the classroom?

On the internet, anyone is free to publish – and that’s both the beauty and the weakness of the internet. When you use a resource on the internet, it has not had the extensive vetting that a published academic work has had. Educational publishing has a complex system of peer review and cross checking for inconsistency and error.

Carefully chosen open source resources will undoubtedly be a part of the reference materials used in courses you take at Wilmington University. But an authoritative, scientific, and accurate textbook will still be the most reliable and solid choice for a course.