Renew the Open Textbook Pilot Grant Program – SPARC

“The Open Textbook Pilot is a federal grant program that supports projects at institutions of higher educations that create or expand the use of open textbooks to achieve savings for students. First funded by Congress in the bipartisan fiscal year 2018 budget bill then renewed for a second year, the program has awarded $10 million in grants through the U.S. Department of Education.

SPARC and U.S. PIRG co-lead a national campaign to secure this first-ever federal funding, and we are now working to renew and strengthen the funding for a third year….

SPARC is working to renew and strengthen the Open Textbook Pilot funding in the FY20 budget. We are calling on Congress to increase the amount of funding, increase the number of grants available, and require the Department of Education to run a new competition.

While the timeline of the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process is still unclear, the House and the Senate have taken steps toward renewing the Open Textbook Pilot. In June 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2740 which includes a $5 million appropriation. On September 18, 2019, the Senate released bill language and the accompanying report for the relevant budget bill, which includes a $6 million appropriation—a $1 million increase—along with instructions for the Department of Education to run a new competition….”

It’s time to get serious about open educational resources | Times Higher Education (THE)

“For universities, the business case is compelling. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey indicates that a $32,000 (£26,000) investment saved its students $1.6 million over two years. At Ontario Tech, we had a professor receive a standing ovation from his students when he announced that a certain expensive astronomy textbook was to be replaced by open educational resources.

At their best, OERs allow faculty and students to build course material in much the same way as developers build open code or open software. Everything is shared. Collective insights can be captured for future students in a virtuous cycle of learning and improvement….

But there are four primary challenges that need to be overcome before the movement can really take off….”

UC Davis Experiments with a New Textbook Model: An Interview with Jason Lorgan – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Beginning in fall of 2020, students will receive an email with links to the digital content and information on what print content they may need and guidance on where to get it. Each email will be personalized based on that student’s schedule. When students add or drop, the University will turn off access to the online content in the courses they have dropped and send them links to access the content for the courses they added. The burden will be on the University to make it easier for the student in Fall of 2020….

The fundamental difference between IA [inclusive access] and EA [equitable access] is that IA is organized at the course level, while EA is at the campus level. IA has variable pricing for each course and EA offers a fixed price per term regardless of what course you are taking….”

UC Davis Experiments with a New Textbook Model: An Interview with Jason Lorgan – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Beginning in fall of 2020, students will receive an email with links to the digital content and information on what print content they may need and guidance on where to get it. Each email will be personalized based on that student’s schedule. When students add or drop, the University will turn off access to the online content in the courses they have dropped and send them links to access the content for the courses they added. The burden will be on the University to make it easier for the student in Fall of 2020….

The fundamental difference between IA [inclusive access] and EA [equitable access] is that IA is organized at the course level, while EA is at the campus level. IA has variable pricing for each course and EA offers a fixed price per term regardless of what course you are taking….”

Open Access Publishing of Textbooks and Guidelines for Otolaryngologists in Developing Countries – Johannes J. Fagan, 2019

Abstract:  Accessing educational and scientific material is key to improving otolaryngology care in developing countries. Yet current financial models of publishers restrict access to academic information. This article describes the author’s experience with self-publishing 2 open access textbooks, Open Access Atlas of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Operative Surgeryand Open Access Guide to Audiology and Hearing Aids for Otolaryngologists, as well as the African Head and Neck Society (AfHNS) Clinical Practice Guidelines for Head and Neck Cancer in Developing Countries and Limited Resource Settings. The author outlines the simplicity, advantages, and popularity of this form of publication and why societies and individuals should embrace open access publishing to benefit especially those studying and practicing in developing countries. He discusses some of the challenges related to open access publishing and calls for medical societies to become involved in evaluating the quality of open access texts and videos for their members.

Why do college textbooks cost so much? 7 questions answered

“Colleges and universities have been active in promoting and developing affordable textbooks, including Open Educational Resources, more commonly known as OER. Open Educational Resources are educational materials – often in digital form – offered freely and openly for anyone to use.

The use of OER has saved students around the world over a billion dollars, and the vast majority of those savings have been reaped by students in the United States and Canada. Research has shown that students using OER do as well as or better than students using traditional course materials, with even better results for less financially secure students….”

Disruption Comes to Higher-Ed Publishing

“The model that higher education textbook publishers have been using for decades is just not working anymore—neither for publishers nor for students. As a result, higher education is the publishing segment that’s undergoing the most disruptive changes today. Change is coming from everywhere, and it’s an exciting time for business model innovation.

The textbook publishing business has been under multiple threats for years. Publishers have increasingly been competing with used textbooks sales and third-party textbook rental services such as Chegg and Amazon. Textbook sales have also been suffering more and more from course instructors using open educational resources and other free online materials. Piracy of publishers’ titles has also eaten into sales.

Publishers’ primary strategy in coping with these forces has been merely to keep raising prices. For example, Paul Samuelson’s Economics (McGraw-Hill), one of the most enduring textbooks of all time, currently retails for $220 in hardcover—up from its $10 price 50 years ago. Even when adjusted for inflation, the price has more than tripled since 1969. But that strategy has stopped working: the AAP reported that sales of higher educational materials fell 7% in 2018 compared to 2017.

The first major publisher to rethink its textbook delivery model was Cengage, the number-two publisher in the U.S. market. Last year, it launched a subscription service called Cengage Unlimited, which offers students access to all e-textbooks in its catalogue for $120 per semester or $180 per year. It even provides a calculator so that students can determine whether they can save money by signing up for the plan vs. purchasing textbooks individually….”

SPARC Urges Department of Justice to Block Merger Between Cengage and McGraw-Hill – SPARC

“Today, SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) submitted a detailed filing to the U.S. Department of Justice urging federal antitrust enforcers to block the proposed merger between college textbook publishing giants Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education. The merger would create the largest publisher of college course materials in the United States and the world’s second largest education publisher overall….”

UVA Library Joins Open Textbook Network | UVA Library News and Announcements

“The University of Virginia Library is joining the Open Textbook Network (OTN), an international alliance of colleges and universities dedicated to enhancing students’ access to free, openly licensed course content.

As an OTN member, the University of Virginia Library will begin working this fall with faculty to promote awareness of a rapidly growing body of open educational resources (OER), developed by colleges and universities in this country and abroad, and to help them use this material in their courses. Future plans for the implementation of an OER program at UVA include supporting new content created by faculty, with the possibility of publication through Aperio, the Library’s new publishing service.

The UVA library has been working closely for the past year with fellow Virginia institutions on OER initiatives through the Virginia Academic Library Consortium(VIVA). Membership in these groups signals our commitment to open education as a way to promote innovations in teaching and learning while also addressing growing concerns about coursework affordability….”