One of the curses of college instruction is the textbook–they tend to be expensive, and as a professor, it’s extremely hard to find one (or even several) that really mirror your course and teaching style.
O’Reilly is stepping into this space with Safari U, which looks like it could revolutionize this space. Safari U lets professors pull together materials from the Safari network, then outputs a book of those materials for a flat-rate of 16¢ per page. Brilliant.
But wait, it gets better: Safari U also uses network edge effects to let professors trade “learning objects.” This means that a customer can see books and syllabi put together by other professors and use those to hot-wire their own compendiums.
This is very cool stuff. At this point the materials naturally focus on O’Reilly’s core areas, but if this is successful, there is no reason–apart from stupidity on the part of publishers–why other fields of study can’t use the same mechanisms to create custom textbooks.
Safari U has the potential to change the college textbook experience in a profound way. Kudos to O’Reilly for taking point on this.
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