“Four LSU librarians have been selected by LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network to join a cohort of 25 librarians from across the state to work alongside instructional designers in order to foster the creation of the Interactive Open Education Resources (OER) for Dual Enrollment program, which will aim to improve the quality of the dual-enrollment program and expand its availability for more high school students. This program was made viable by a two-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Open Textbooks Pilot program….”
“UW-Eau Claire is attempting to transform the cost of higher education by offering textbooks and other teaching materials for free.
Materials required for college courses often run students hundreds of dollars per semester. The university hopes to help students with the cost of a degree using open educational resources, or OER….”
For Rachel Bickley, market pressure alone cannot solve the problems in the market for academic ebooks.
In the time since a small group of academic librarians launched the #ebooksos campaign with an Open Letter asking for an investigation into the academic ebook publishing industry, we have faced some questioning of our actions.
In spite of the letter having attracted, at the time of writing, signatures from over 3800 librarians, lecturers, students, heads of services, university senior managers and two vice chancellors, indicating that the cost and availability of ebooks is a significant concern across the sector, there have still been suggestions that perhaps we could sit down and discuss the issues with the publishers instead.
However, these issues are not new. The pandemic has brought the lack of availability of ebooks for institutional access, and the astronomical prices and restrictive licences under which those which are available can be procured, into sharp focus, but librarians have been dealing with this situation for a long time. Dialogue with publishers has been attempted, but it went nowhere useful. The investigation route was not a knee-jerk reaction to being unable to obtain the resources that we need for our students; it was the only option that those of us who set up the campaign could see remaining.
“Textbooks are too expensive, and have been for a very long time. Little competition in the college publishing industry- and therefore little consumer choice – has contributed to the cost of course materials increasing at three times the rate of inflation since the 1970s. While the curve has plateaued the past couple of years, there has been little change in student experience. Students have continued to skip buying assigned course materials due to cost at similar rates.
Then COVID-19 happened. To protect public health, educators adjusted their courses for emergency remote instruction at breakneck speed. In the spring, some publishers and education technology companies offered temporary free access to online books and homework platforms for the final few months of the spring term, but the return of full-price materials in the summer coincided with the second wave of COVID-19. An economic crisis has dovetailed the public health crisis, where youth unemployment in the summer of 2020 was double that of summer 2019 and over 8 percent higher than the general population. Any member of the campus community can tell you that the pandemic has exacerbated existing weaknesses within higher education – but how does textbook affordability factor into this difficult landscape for teaching and learning?
This national survey of more than 5,000 college students was taken in September 2020, and builds on similar surveys from 2013 and 2019. It offers a snapshot in time of student experiences, particularly those at four-year institutions, in the first full semester of the pandemic and points out more long-term problems that institutions and national leaders must work to solve. …”
“That sentiment echoes what Temple Student Government (TSG) found in a survey it conducted last fall on textbook affordability. In response to the prompt: “Indicate how course materials have affected you this [fall 2020] semester,” 41% of the respondents replied that they worked extra hours at their job to afford course materials, 24% said they chose classes and sections based on the cost of the learning materials and 28% had to prioritize the purchase of access code content over other learning materials. In their comments, students reported skipping meals and not paying bills in order to pay for course materials, while others admitted to dropping a class because they could not afford the textbook.
With students facing financial challenges compounded by the pandemic, including lower family earnings or lost part-time job wages, etc., the high cost of textbooks is more prohibitive than ever. That’s why a group of faculty and administrators, known as the Textbook Task Force , have doubled down on their efforts to ease that financial strain.
The task force was organized by Executive Vice President and Provost JoAnne A. Epps in 2019 and is charged with developings strategies for creating more awareness among faculty about textbook affordability challenges students face and how faculty can seek out and adopt open and zero-cost learning materials….”
“Today we’re releasing a big update to Open Syllabus data and websites. Here’s a rundown:
The Co-Assignment Galaxy
The Galaxy has received a massive upgrade in scale and functionality. The previous version mapped 164,000 titles and could display 30,000 at a time. The new version maps 1.1 million titles and can display 500,000 at a time. The resolution of fields and subfields is vastly improved as a result….
OER Metrics is a new subsite for investigating trends and adoption patterns for openly-licensed books and textbooks (i.e., Open Educational Resources). It provides the first tools for mapping the demand side of the OER ecosystem and–we hope–can help inform adoption decisions by instructors and programs and investment decisions by authors, publishers, and funders….”
“Librarians at UK universities say students’ reading lists for this term are being torn up because of publishers’ “eye-watering” increases to ebook prices, and some students are now reading what is available or affordable, rather than what their tutors think is best for their course.
With thousands of students studying in their bedrooms at home because of the pandemic, providing access to textbooks and research books online has become crucial. However, librarians say academic publishers are failing to offer electronic versions of many books, seen as critical to degree courses during the pandemic. And, they say, universities frequently cannot afford to buy the ebooks available, for which they can be charged more than five times as much as the printed version, often running into hundreds of pounds a copy, sometimes for one user at a time.
Nearly 3,000 librarians, academics and students have now signed an open letter calling for a public investigation into the “unaffordable, unsustainable and inaccessible” academic ebook market….”
“This past fall, students in Dr. Carmela Mattza’s Spanish 2155 course were able to access their course textbook free of cost from LSU Digital Commons. Mattza, an associate professor of Spanish, published her e-textbook Variedades: Intermediate/Advanced Spanish Conversation in the University’s institutional repository, which is hosted by LSU Libraries. Articles and books in LSU Digital Commons are open access, which means they are available to everyone at no cost….”