Partnership Gives Students Access To A High-Price Text On A MOOC Budget

Later this month, Michael Schatz, a physics professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, will begin teaching a massive open online physics course through Coursera. Because of the complexity of physics and because the course uses computer modeling, students taking the MOOC will need access to something that doesn't often come with a free online course: an expensive textbook.

"This is an intro course," Mr. Schatz said. "The idea is this is a person's first course in physics. Textbook usage is a common feature of such courses. They play a central role. Without the book, this course is kind of a nonstarter."

But that textbook, which is called Matter and Interactions and is published by John Wiley & Sons, can cost more than $150. With many participants enrolling in MOOCs as a way to learn while saving money, how to bring high-quality, mainstream textbooks into a service that is meant to be free, or at least inexpensive, remains a puzzle.

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