The Daily Herald has a recent article on a professor who does away with text books (because text books are expensive and part of the rising cost of education).
Hammond was teaching a race relations class last year and had assigned a textbook that cost about $80. Unfortunately for the students, the publishing company released a new edition and none of the students could sell the book back.
"All these students had to eat that book," Hammond said.
That caused Hammond to re-think textbooks. Now, instead of assigning his students textbooks, Hammond assigns them reading material from journal articles and original research available on the Internet or in the library.
Since then, Hammond has gotten rid of all the books textbook companies had given him. He re-did all of his courses, basing his tests and quizzes on the new material, writing his own questions because he no longer has access to banks of questions that come with the book.
It took him all last year to re-write the material for his classes.
"It was worth it in the long run," Hammond said.
He even stopped using a textbook supplement he wrote.
Hammond said he would continue to tweak his courses to give the students the most bang for their buck and the best education he can present.
Hammond doesn't know if not using a textbook is better for the students academically.
"In a sense this is a field experiment. I'm learning as I go," he said.
Personally, I like the other advantage of such a method:
Still there are some possible benefits. Hammond said he can teach students better because it offers flexibility and teaches students research skills.
"I want them to understand where information comes from," Hammond said. "It's a skill they're going to need."
Unfortunately, while there's a lot of computers and (relatively) cheap Internet access in the country, it's still not as accessible as I'd want it to be for the public schools to implement such an idea (in my alma matter alone, there were long lines as students waited to use the computer for online research and printing).