Free Digital Textbooks, Audio and Video for School and Continuing Education
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.
California's recent decision to go to digital textbooks, especially open source, free textbooks, has caused quite a stir. The publicity generated from that move has folks taking a harder look at free educational resources on line. Since I am constantly advising the use of educational and training resources to improve human performance, I've collected a good list of links to websites where you can find such resources. This appears to be a good time to share some of it. The following list contains a few links to good commercial sites, but most of the links are to free materials. (Disclosure: I have no relationship with any of the commercial sites.)
Whether or not you are enrolled in a class, most of your learning comes from your own reading, researching and practicing your skills outside of formal lecture halls. The free and/or discounted materials below can provide you with opportunities for growing your knowledge, in addition to saving you money if you do happen to be in school and the text is an assigned one.
For Digital Textbooks and Other Digital Text Educational Material
CourseSmart.com http://www.coursesmart.com/ -- A commercial site with over 7000 titles available, most of which are now being converted to iphone use as well. Deep discounts for digital textbooks over print.
FlatWorldKnowledge.com http://www.flatworldknowledge.com/ -- A commercial site, but you can read the books on line for free, You can also buy various kinds of printings, such as printing a single chapter at a time. They have a large selection of books on a wide range of subjects.
SmartHistory.com http://smarthistory.org/ -- Offers free online art history text and images.
WikiBooks.org http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page -- A free textbooks wiki and source.
TextbooksFree.org http://www.textbooksfree.org/ -- A huge list of free textbooks and lecture notes sources.
TextbookRevolution.org http://textbookrevolution.org/index.php/Main_Page -- A consolidation of links to textbooks and other educational resources.
Science and Math Textbooks http://spot.colorado.edu/~dubin/bookmarks/b/1240.html l-- Links to free online science and math textbooks.
TextbookMedia.com http://www.textbookmedia.com/Default.aspx -- Formerly from freeloadpress.com, now many free books being distributed by this partner site -- requires a free membership. You can also buy texts and/or chapters, much in the same manner as CourseSmart.
OER Commons (Open Educational Resources) http://www.oercommons.org/ -- Free to use and share, regulated by license, many with the ability to change, customize and further develop and distribute. No merely textbooks, but also various other materials as well. Covers all levels of education - K-12, Post Secondary, etc.
Other Free Educational Texts, Not Textbooks
National Academies Press http://www.nap.edu/about.html -- Publishes over 200 books a year in science, engineering and health. You can get free online reads or free pdf downloads.
For Digital Video/Audio Educational Materials
AcademicEarth.com http://academicearth.org/ -- Video lectures from top schools -- free to learn, no credit.
iTunes University -- (open iTunes [the application], select Store and then select iTunesU) -- Various lectures from top teachers at a large number of colleges in a wide variety of subjects -- some audio, some video -- all free, no credit -- includes schools like Yale, Carnegie Mellon and Cambridge.