Creating a free wikibook for college students

Creating a free wikibook for college students

As a college professor committed to the principles of the free software movement, I frequently find myself wondering how I can promote the cause from within the university setting. One obvious way is to have students read works by Richard Stallman and Lawrence Lessig—and have them use free software alternatives whenever possible. However, I still felt there had to a less propagandistic, more subtle (and effective) way. At last I was presented with the opportunity to try something different—have a class of graduate students and upper-level undergraduates develop a comprehensive composition textbook as a wikibook.

My plan is to work with the class (and eventually other professors) to hammer this thing into shape so that incoming students who can’t afford a commercial textbook will have a viable alternative. Surprisingly, some commercial textbook publishers have already expressed interest in the project, and one rep has even helped build some of the pages.

I invite everyone here to check out what we’re doing and participate. Wikibooks are a great idea, and I’m convinced they represent a great alternative to commercial textbooks.


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Matt Barton's picture


Matt Barton is an English professor at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He is an advocate of free software, wikis, and the Creative Commons. He also studies and writes about videogames and computing history. Matt also has blogs at Armchair Arcade, Gameology, and Kairosnews.