Supporting Open-Source Textbooks

A report publicized in The New York Times last week found that using electronic “open-source” textbooks can save college students hundreds of dollars during their college education. According to the report, the College Board estimates that the average cost of books and supplies during an academic year is between $1,200 and $1,300. In order to curb the costs of attending Cornell, we at The Sun urge faculty members to experiment with open-source books to facilitate wider adoption throughout the University.

As the cost of a Cornell education continues to increase, efforts must be made in order to rein in expenses wherever possible. Although allocating additional funding for those students who need financial aid is a positive step, many students still face economic challenges affording a Cornell education without taking on large amounts of debt. By adopting an open-source textbook, a professor could save a student an average of $128 per course, according to the report. Additionally, students who prefer not to use digital copies of books have the opportunity to have open-source books printed for the cost of the book — approximately $10 to $40. Adding these savings across a total of eight semesters, Cornellians using these books could dramatically decrease the costs of education on the Hill.

Faculty also have opportunities to benefit from using open-source books. Due to the open licensing of the books, professors could modify the textbooks in a manner that best suits their individual teaching styles. According to the report, over 2,500 faculty members from across the United States have signed the Faculty Statement on Open Textbooks, which expresses support for using open textbooks. We urge Cornell faculty members to sign the statement and call upon the University to adopt a pilot program to promote open-source textbooks across campus.

By providing students with low-cost textbook alternatives, the University has the opportunity to reduce the cost of attending Cornell. We encourage professors to use these books in favor of their pricey counterparts and urge administrators to work to adopt a University-wide program supporting using open-source books in the classroom.

Source: Cornell Daily Sun

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