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LRSC professor writes open textbook

A professor at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake has written her own open source textbook.

An open textbook replaces commercial textbooks in classes and is usually distributed electronically by PDF file or online - and its use is completely free.  Michelle Murphy is an assistant professor of online anatomy and biology at LRSC and says her textbook was tested by her students last fall, and was officially released this month.  She says the students liked that they could carry the books on their phones, tablets or computers - and she says they really appreciated the "free" price tag.

"Because the prices of textbooks are approaching that of tuition now!  I mean, it's not that unusual for a science textbook to be up to or exceeding $200 a book for a new book."

Murphy says in the age of "e-readers" and books being easily available for little to no cost, students have come to expect this type of technology at schools.  Murphy says that while she is not paid for her book, using her own open textbook in her classes will save her a lot of time and work in trying to keep up with the latest editions of traditional textbooks.

"I sat down one day with a 10th edition and a 9th edition of a book I use for one of my classes, and the only difference between those two editions was about a handful of the heading titles.  None of the text or figures had been changed.  When a textbook author changes a book, I have to go through and change all of my materials - the assignment pages, and that kind of thing."

Murphy says she fully expects more professors to begin embracing the use of open textbooks.