California Open Source Textbook Project

The California Open Source Textbook Project (COSTP) began in 2001 as a collaborative - a public/private undertaking; it was the first organization created to address the high cost, content range, and consistent shortages of K-12 textbooks in California. The latter goal is currently well on its way to being accomplished. COSTP has evolved over recent years to establish and spread the Open Textbook, Open Educational Resource (OER), Open Courseware, and Open Education memes to K-12 and postsecondary educational institutions, worldwide. Many Open source textbook and courseware projects have started up since COSTP's inception. Here are some of the many organizations that COSTP has advised on organizational structure; content deployment; strategic planning, public policy initiatives, and so on. COSTP continues to advocate for increased open access to the educational process itself, enabled by open content.

COSTP's early goals were 1) leveraging free, already-existing, and widely available K-12 educational content in the public domain; 2) better leveraging the substantial curriculum-based intellectual capital of the best K-12 and college teachers; and, 3) deploying Open licenses to secure new and dormant K-12 and college textbook content that would not otherwise be made available. The foregoing goals are well on their way to being accomplished.

California currently spends more than $400M annually - and rising - for K-12 textbooks. Yet, textbook shortages remain. With K-12 enrollments projected to rise in the coming years, revenue demands for textbooks and other curriculum materials in California will increase proportionately. A similar situation exists in post-secondary education, where the cost of college textbooks has risen since 1992 at three times the rate of inflation. As a result, many college students cannot afford their college education. Open textbooks will solve the high textbook cost problem within K-12 and post-secondary educations.

In California, COSTP has clearly shown - over years - that Open textbooks authored to well-established K-12 State curriculum framework standards can 1) significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the cost of the current $400M+ line item for California's K-12 textbooks; 2) significantly increase the quality and range of content afforded to California's K-12 textbooks; 3) put a permanent end to California's K-12 textbook shortages; and, 4) make possible a fully portable content holdings database that scales with the introduction of new learning and classroom technologies.

Phase two of the COSTP's goal is coming closer to fruition; that goal will see innovative organizations, like Flat World Knowledge, CK-12, Connexions, ISKME, CCCOTC, Merlot, MIT's Open CourseWare, and many others able to offer Open textbook and curriculum materials to educational organizations, worldwide - thus creating substantial cost savings and increasing access to education for those entities. A note of

COSTP continues to advocate for 1) strict adherence to State curriculum framework standards; 2) the creation of high quality, peer-reviewed content; 3) well-designed support standards; universal accessibility, no matter one's physical challenges; and, 4) a sustainable model of deployment that does not depend on taxpayer or foundation dollars. - i.e. sustainable outcomes are necessary to maintain success over time.

It is important to note that COSTP's mandate does not replace printed textbooks; instead, printed books become far more affordable. COSTP's goal in the digital realm is to see the stage set for provisioning of educational digital content that is interoperable within all modalities - i.e. handheld devices, educational games, and so on.

COSTP operates without benefit of contributions; its goals are simple and straightforward - i.e. the discovery and sharing of information necessary to unlock intellectual capital, to serve learners, everywhere. COSTP continues to provide guidance for K-12 and post-secondary organizations that are pointed in the direction of post-secondary Open Education efforts.