Textbook costs have been the bane of college students for a long time. Quill West, the director of the Open Education Project at Pierce, says textbooks are almost like a “hidden cost,” since they aren’t listed as part of tuition costs.
“Access is a big issue,” West said. “Many students don’t buy textbooks at all because of the price, knowing full well that it may affect their grades, and community college students are the ones most likely to not be able to afford them. Textbooks are supposed to be a support structure for students that helps them learn. They cannot fulfill that role if they are such a financial burden.”
According to West, the goal is not to simply replace the role of traditional textbook publishers. The Open Education Project is a combined effort by students, Pierce faculty, and state legislators to bring cheaper, perhaps even free, options to students when it comes to textbooks. Already, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord campus has one such program up and running: Pierce Open Pathway (POP). All five of Washington’s public universities and The Evergreen State College accept credits from this transfer degree, and saves students costs by allowing a mixture of free resources both online and from the library that teachers can also use for a more customized class experience rather than having to rely explicitly on traditional textbooks.