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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Free, OER Geography Text STILL Available Thanks to Saylor Foundation

The big education news at the end of last year was that the Saylor Foundation came to the rescue of Flat World's once open textbooks (Saylor announcement). Who? What? I hear you cry.

Flat World, until late last year offered a slew of free-to-use digital textbooks. In November the company made a change to take its once Creative Commons licensed texts from that license to one by which the company could make money (Techdirt coverage). While some educators responded with dismay, the Saylor Foundation kicked in in some way, it's not exactly clear how, to keep the open texts open and free. Flat World still offers, and Saylor encourages use of, printed ($) versions of the texts.

My sense is few readers had heard of either Flat World or the foundation, so let me get right to why readers of this blog, geography and GIS educators, would care about this seemingly obscure news. Flat World, and now Saylor, offers a long list of free to use textbooks. One of them is a detailed, PhD-written regional geography text, World Regional Geography (large PDF) by Dr. Royal Berglee from Morehead State University in Kentucky. It's got concise chapters, introduces key geographic principles, surveys regions, has maps and charts, and on quick review, passes muster with me. The main things I found to be missing: a table of contents and an index.