Free textbook program saves Grossmont College students thousands each semester

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….”

Low-Income Students Told Brown U. That Textbook Prices Limited Their Choices. Here’s What the University Is Doing About It. – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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….”

Affordable College Textbook Act Reintroduced in U.S. Congress – SPARC

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….”

Assembly Democrats’ Bill to Make College Textbooks More Affordable Heads to Governor – Insider NJ

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….”

Open-access chemistry textbooks gain popularity

“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….”

OE [Open Education] Day at UTA [U of Texas at Arlington]

Abstract:  We’ll define open educational resources (OER), examine the impact of OER use in higher education, discuss copyright and open licensing, and explore avenues for identifying existing OER that can be remixed and reused. The presentation will cover updates on federal and state OER initiatives and highlight support for open educational practices at UTA, including access to and technical support for Pressbooks, a web-based publishing platform.

Do open educational resources improve student learning? Implications of the access hypothesis

Abstract:  Open Educational Resources (OER) have been lauded for their ability to reduce student costs and improve equity in higher education. Research examining whether OER provides learning benefits have produced mixed results, with most studies showing null effects. We argue that the common methods used to examine OER efficacy are unlikely to detect positive effects based on predictions of the access hypothesis. The access hypothesis states that OER benefits learning by providing access to critical course materials, and therefore predicts that OER should only benefit students who would not otherwise have access to the materials. Through the use of simulation analysis, we demonstrate that even if there is a learning benefit of OER, standard research methods are unlikely to detect it.