As much as I love the ds106 create bank, I think I have to disagree with Abram. In most classes the textbook is meant to make the modular bits cohere. It’s the road map. But I think Abram’s point (and Dave’s point) about the coherence is right — textbooks decay partially because they have to embed lots of small changeable things in a big, largely unchanging narrative. The whole point of the textbook, usually, is to pull stuff together, and keeping stuff pulled together takes maintenance. This makes WIkipedia the wrong model IMHO.

But I *love* the idea of a textbook updating marathon as a MOOC. One of the things I think that makes it work is while textbook writing is somewhat dependent on a small number of authors (to maintain coherence) textbook editing doesn’t necessarily work like that. Most of the editing isn’t editing of that slow changing narrative, but is of the fast changing examples. (Very few of which bubble up to the overall narrative).

The ones that do change the bigger narrative are fascinating questions that would be incredibly engaging for a community to confront.

Here’s an additional idea — pay the people that run the MOOC and coordinate the effort. How? Have the classes using the textbooks assess a $10 student fee for the upkeep. Apply that money to make sure the MOOC leaders can devote their full attention to the revision MOOC. I think if we want to keep these things updated we have to get used to charging nominal fees — not for the product, mind you, but as a sort of institutional tip jar. So, for example, anyone can get the textbook for free (it’s still open) but institutional reuse gets assessed a (perhaps voluntary) maintenance fee.

$10 a student times even a thousand students a year provides more than enough money to pay for someone to coordinate, promote, and facilitate the MOOC. It puts someone on the hook to do all the exhausting work, and while it isn’t lucractive, I think it would help get it done. The money might go to the coordinator directly, or, more likely, be disbursed to his/her institution to by some release time to do it.

I’m really excited about this idea, and can’t wait to see the next part… I could see anyone of a number of WordPress templates that allow annotation as a potential platform, followed by a PressBooks sort of process.