U of Illinois professor embraces open-source textbooks

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill.– One professor at the University of Illinois thought textbooks were getting too expensive for his students. So he decided to partner with other educators to write their own book and make it available online for free.

Jonathan Tomkin is associate director of the UI School of Earth, Society and Environment. He says it’s hard to find textbooks for less than $100. He says he’s a proponent of open-source textbooks, saying they are high quality and save money for students.

The News-Gazette reports that the open-source book Tomkin worked on, “Sustainability: A Comprehensive History,” has been used at a dozen colleges and universities.

The books have student support too. The Illinois Student Senate approved a resolution last March asking the campus to offer incentives to faculty who use open textbooks.