A textbook is inherently a work created by committee. And what better technology for collaborating on a textbook than Wikis? The Global Text Project, reports Ars Technica, was born out of a textbook design course at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.
The course had students work collaboratively on one textbook. The collaborative model was so successful that professor Rick Watson expanded the idea to producing a library of 1,000 textbooks that will be created with Wiki technology and uploaded and edited on the Internet.
"The textbook model doesn't work for developing nations. They can't get the books down to a price that people in the developing world can afford. You essentially have to give the books away," said Watson.
There are a few differences between the Global Text Project and Wikipedia. Although the site will allow anyone to make edits and additions, each chapter of a book will be overseen by an academic with knowledge of that field, and will not become "official" until an editor signs off on them.
The initial goal of the program is to create books that can provide the equivalent of the first two years of undergraduate education. The academic community is very supportive. But a quick look at the site reveals that the first books are entirely about information technology, so the project is a long way from providing the full range of texts for an undergrad education. But practical books are a start.