Curriki and the battle for textbooks

It always happens right after registration. You stand there in front of a door holding your schedule in your hand. You are paralyzed with fear wafting over you, but you know that it is inevitable. You must walk through this door. You must gather your pile of books, and fork over hundreds (if not thousands of dollars) for your textbooks. Every semester I absolutely hated having to pay for textbooks. Some of my college textbooks ran as much as $250, effectively cleaning out my summer savings from work. Some of my textbooks were used for one paragraph, others sat on a shelf collecting dust. Some (not all) of my professors seemed to care very little about how much money I was spending on books that I would never crack open. In the end I was left feeling taken advantage of, and even more in debt.

I am not the only one feeling the money crunch when buying books. Just ask Scott McNealy former CEO of Sun Microsystems, and founder of Curriki. “We are spending $8 billion to $15 billion per year on textbooks” in the United States, Mr. McNealy says. “It seems to me we could put that all online for free.” Curriki was founded in 2004 with the idea to bring free open source curricula to educational institutions. This is a curricula beyond textbooks. Browsing their website can provide educators and students with a wealth of lessons, activities and learning resources 100% free.

My only regret when I found out about this site, was I was not made aware of this resource sooner. I strongly encourage you to check this site out and even contribute. Not to sound like a radical but for a long time i have felt that textbook companies have been allowed to charge whatever they want to students with little or no regulation whatsoever. Having these alternative routes will not only allow for competition for textbooks, but allows for a chance to cut the students a much-needed financial break. Moreover, as an educator I wholeheartedly welcome any resource for my students that can broaden our teaching conversation.

Here is a brief New York Times article on Curriki. I highly recommend reading and browsing the site.


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