One of my colleagues from the U of Kentucky just posted a request on our grad student listserv asking for advice about which texts people are using for intro courses. I replied with the book that I used during the two intro to anthropology classes I taught while at UK, but then added that the book was lamentably expensive at around 100 bucks. And that got me thinking.
I wonder if at some point there will be such a thing as an open access intro to anthropology course, where all of the texts and articles are not only current, but readily available. Just an idea. The cost of textbooks was one of the big frustrations for me when I was teaching–but I went along with things anyway because there were few alternatives. And then there was the issue with articles: some are a lot easier to find and access than others. Some articles are just plain not available. Not to mention the fact that there are all sorts of restrictions about how articles can and cannot be shared with students.
I know that textbook publishers aren’t exactly going to be thrilled with this conversation, but what would an open access course look like? I know that these kinds of things don’t happen for free, of course, so I am wondering how such a thing could be created, funded, and implemented. Has anyone else out there been looking something along these lines? I’d love to hear about it. Or, if you think this is an insane idea that would never work in the real world, I’d like to hear what you think just as much. Right now I am imagining a larger project along the lines of Wikipedia where different scholars write and publish open access articles specifically for introductory courses. That of course could be combined with material that’s already open (like articles from AA that are more than 35 years old). Hmmm. Thoughts?
PS: Ya, when I start thinking about OA I get on a roll. What can I say? I have my streaks.