Open Source Textbooks
....how is it that no one has created an open-source series of textbooks and posted them on-line? Textbooks are extraordinarily expensive, yet there are plenty of people with the expertise and know-how to put together excellent textbooks on elementary-level subjects. Heck, you could get 100 high school biology teachers and put together a stellar book on introductory biology, free and downloadable.
Textbook makers really have students, schools, and teachers over a barrel. I'm stunned teachers haven't done something about this (or perhaps, the teacher unions).
Well, the teachers probably have some rather smelly interests in common with the textbook companies. After all, they're likely to support technology that promotes independent learning about the same time they start recommending Ivan Illich and John Taylor Gatto. You know, the same day Judas Iscariot and Adolf Hitler line up in hell to get their new ice skates. It's probably not by accident, comrades, that the publik skool establishment tends to promote look-say over phonics. The invention of the phonic alphabet was one of the most democratically empowering revolutions in history. As Miss Daisy said, if you know your letters, you can read. Learning to sight-read whole words, on the other hand, is a throwback to ideographic writing systems like Egyptian hieroglyphics, that make society dependent on a privileged mandarin class. Today's functionally illiterate or near-illiterate majority, manipulated by assorted educationists, social workers, and human resources apparatchiks, seems oddly familiar, does it not? In the society of the pig ignorant, the half-educated man is king.
Anyway, two other commenters came to the rescue with a lot of interesting links to online texts. Joel Schlosberg links to an article by Ben Crowell on the online textbook phenomenon, and to several online texts on physics and algebra,
Duncan links to a large online library of textbooks at Wikibooks; here's the site's introductory article.
As for me, the first thing Josh's comment brought to mind was M.I.T.'s Open Courseware project, which provides online syllabi and some lecture notes for a major part of their course catalogs.