Has anyone successfully used the free online American Yawp for a primary textbook in an American Survey class?
I am looking at possibly switching to using it completely and doing away with the students buying a text book. Right now I am using Give Me Liberty by Forner and I do not like it. I was thinking of using Yawp and then supplementing it with primary sources.
I'm using The American Yawp right now, for the first time. We'll see how it goes at the end of the semester, but after three weeks, it seems to be fine. As Gerald Shenk just mentioned, the layout can be confusing: it's difficult to get from one chapter to the set of primary sources, for instance, and it's not possible to view all of the primary sources in a chapter at once. If you want students to bring the sources to read in class, they have to individually print 4-6 sources or bring a laptop/tablet. It needs better outlines, timelines, terms lists, and/or other hooks for students to be able to get their heads around this big chunk of text.
That said, I think the benefits outweigh the costs. It's not quite as good as some standard texts I have used, but it's comparable. The text is generally fine, and while there are things I feel are left out or could be cut, I've never read a textbook that I wouldn't want to change in some way. Using a free, open textbook seems an inherently worthy effort.
Right now, I intend to use it again next semester, and just download and combine the primary documents into a single PDF that I will provide electronically. I'll probably try to make some of the problems into virtues - have my students create terms lists for each chapter, perhaps.