“Open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. These books have been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality. These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost. All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions; or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization. The library currently includes 625 textbooks, with more being added all the time.
“Textbook news is everywhere these days. Last month Cengage and McGraw-Hill said they would merge and Wiley bought Knewton. And last week the State University of New York announced a major expansion of its relationship with Lumen Learning, a company that promotes the use of open educational resources.
All of those developments have the potential to upend how much — and how — college students pay for books in the future. But why wait? An experiment now underway at the University of California at Davis aims to lower costs for students and to guarantee them access to all assigned course materials while assuring publishers of a continuous market for their products.
It’s still early, but I think this “equitable access” approach — in which all students pay the same book fee every term, no matter the course or discipline — could revolutionize the textbook business at a time when costly textbooks have become a barrier to many financially needy students….”
Abstract: My capstone project for the 2018-19 SPARC Open Education Leadership Program focused on developing internal infrastructure in order to support a new and quickly growing OER program at the University of Houston (UH). The primary goals of my project were to develop an OER adoption workflow to support instructors in replacing commercial textbooks, and to develop a service model for an effective and sustainable level of OER support.
This report details the process of completing the capstone project, which included conducting an environmental scan of OER needs at UH, reviewing existing OER workflows and similar resources, developing an OER adoption workflow specific to the UH context, and beginning to develop a service model for OER support. Successful completion of the capstone project is evaluated by comparing project outcomes to the desired goals.
Lessons learned include recognizing the value of documentation, resisting perfection, understanding my own process, and acknowledging my progress and successes. This project would not be as successful without my SPARC mentor, Camille Thomas (Scholarly Publishing Librarian, Texas Tech University), who provided constant guidance and support.
“Grossmont College is looking to expand a program that offers free textbooks to students.
The Open Educational Resources program, or OER, allows students to download digital versions of textbooks for free. College officials say it can save students more than $1,000 each semester. In the 2018-19 school year, Grossmont students have already saved nearly $1.3 million….”
“Brown’s $3.6-billion endowment permits it to support low-income students creatively, said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher-education policy and sociology at Temple University, who studies food and housing insecurity among students. “If you’ve got that kind of money,” she said, “I’d like to see how far they can go.”
That might not mean covering more and more student expenses, Goldrick-Rab said. Instead, it could mean questioning or even reducing those expenses. Colleges could move toward providing open course materials….”
“SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to broaden access to knowledge, today applauded the reintroduction of the Affordable College Textbook Act in the U.S. Congress. The bill aims to make higher education more affordable for students by expanding the use and awareness of open educational resources (OER) — high quality academic materials that can be freely downloaded, edited and shared to better serve all students….”
“The bill (A-327-3254-1149) requires each institution of higher education to submit a plan to the Secretary of Higher Education to expand the use of open textbooks and commercial digital learning materials. “Open textbooks” are educational resources for college courses that are available online for free or at a reduced cost….”
“In October 2018, the US Department of Education gave LibreTexts, an OER portal based at the University of California, Davis, a $4.9 million grant to develop free, open textbooks in targeted subjects, including chemistry. The goal for the chemistry materials is to develop resources that will enable schools to offer an ACS-approved bachelor’s degree with zero cost for textbooks. ACS evaluates programs to determine whether they meet the guidelines established by the society’s Committee on Professional Training. The consortium developing LibreTexts includes 11 institutions beyond UC Davis, plus the California State University system. The consortium and its predecessor, ChemWiki, previously received funding from the US National Science Foundation….
Professors who want to use LibreTexts can use the existing materials as is, or they can mix and match the various textbooks available to make their own. The consortium currently contains 61 chemistry textbooks, 58 of which are in English and 3 of which are in Spanish.
Brett McCollum, a chemistry professor at Mount Royal University, in Canada, adopted LibreTexts for one section of his general-chemistry class in 2015. After a successful trial run, his department adopted it for all sections of both semesters of general chemistry the following year….
Rather than linking to existing LibreTexts pages, McCollum replicates those pages on his own course pages within LibreTexts and edits them to fit the focus of his class. “Having that freedom to tailor the book was really valuable to me,” he says….
McCollum envisions a future with most OER development funded by governments. In Canada, most provinces already have an OER initiative, he says. “Canada sees this as an important path forward for equity and for enabling students from diverse backgrounds to engage more fully in higher education,” McCollum says. “We have a vision of sharing nationally and internationally” the materials from the OER initiatives….
One thing that differentiates OpenStax from commercial publishing is the OER provider doesn’t need to constantly release new editions of its books to keep ahead of a used-book market. OpenStax books are available free to students electronically or for a nominal cost if a student prefers to have a printed version….”