Category Archives: Textbook News

OER Saves Students $1 Million in Textbook Costs

September 26, 2017 – Over the last few years, several Santa Fe College professors opted to forego the use of traditional textbooks and use Open Educational Resources (OER) to save students money.  OER content is licensed in a manner that provides perpetual permission resulting in the ability to retain, reuse, revise, and redistribute content.

During Fall 2016, there were 98 sections using an OER.  During Fall 2017, that number more than doubled with 207 sections. As a result, there has been over one million dollars in savings for students since tracking began.

The average yearly cost of textbooks per student is approximately $1,200. Studies have shown how the high cost of textbooks has affected student learning and academic choices in several ways including taking fewer courses, not registering for a specific course, dropping, withdrawing or failing a course or earn a poor grade.

Over 66 percent of students do not purchase the required textbook.  This greatly affects their ability to be successful. Using OER enables students to learn without the financial hurdles printed textbooks can present. Many online OER have a low-cost print option if students wish to have a hard copy.

A list of courses/instructors using OER can be found at sfcollege.edu/online/resources-and-services/zero-cost-textbooks.

If you are interested in using an OER, would like more information, or your name is not on the listing, contact debbie.blair@sfcollege.edu.

Today@Santa FE

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Have you ever used International Versions of a textbook?

International Versions of textbooks, what are they and are they legal in the US?

Textbook publishers sell their books worldwide and often price them based on book prices and economic conditions of the destination countries. These textbooks sold abroad are referred to “International Editions” or “Low price editions”.

An International Edition textbook is simply the international counterpart to a US Edition. Most international editions have slightly different covers, many have different ISBNs on the outside covers (although some have the same ISBN as the US edition on the inside), but are still printed on high-quality paper. These books were originally created to be sold in different regions, like Europe. International Edition textbooks have the same pagination and contents as the US Edition. All units, page numbers, and problem sets are the same as the US version.

Most international editions may bear a label that says something to the effect of “Not for sale in the U.S. or Canada”. This is because the publisher has printed the books to be sold overseas. There is nothing illegal, however, in purchasing international edition books from sellers overseas. In fact, the 2013 Supreme Court decision of Kirtsaeng vs. John Wiley & Sons put this matter to rest, ruling that International Edition textbooks may be sold and purchased within the U.S. It also upheld the right of anyone to sell used international edition textbooks, which means that college students can resell their international edition textbooks when the semester is over!

Students are missing out on big savings by not investigating International Editions of textbooks. Website Cheap-Textbooks.com, whose textbook price service includes International Editions, recently ran a Twitter poll asking about International Edition usage and 100% of the respondents said they have not used a international Edition.

 

Free textbooks are just as effective as costly ones

In a result that will make college students rejoice, a group of researchers at Brigham Young University have found that a free textbook is just as effective as an expensive one.

BYU’s Open Education Group studies open educational resources, free and open-access educational resources they’ve found that can teach students just as well as paid resources.

The group’s research not only showed that students using the free materials do just as well, and in some cases better, than if they were using a pricey textbook, but that the students were also more likely to stick in a course and not drop out.

For low-income students at community colleges, open educational resources might be an effective resource for keeping more students in school.

Lane Fischer, a BYU counseling psychology and special education chair and member of the Open Education Group, said many students will wait to buy their textbooks until weeks after classes begin when their financial aid comes or until they decide they need the textbook for the course. By the time the students get their books, they’re behind and might drop the course.

“That cycle continues for these folks who have lower educational resources,” Fischer said. “This is our most vulnerable group who most need an education and we are making them slow down and hurting them in the process.”

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Grossmont College Partners with OpenStax to Promote Free Textbooks

The high cost of traditional textbooks—an average of somewhere between $600 and $1,400 per student each year, according to studies by NACS and the College Board—not only impacts students’ ability to attend college but also their ability to continue and complete coursework. Open educational resources, including the free, peer-reviewed textbooks offered by OpenStax, eliminate cost barriers for students and allow unrestricted, immediate access to learning materials, increasing the likelihood for students to complete their courses successfully.

Grossmont College is committed to student success by reducing high textbook costs for students while still presenting high quality content and protecting academic freedom. Grossmont College appreciates that OpenStax books meet standard scope and sequence requirements, are peer-reviewed by educators, and are easy to implement. They are comparable to textbooks that cost $200 or more and are available for free online and in PDF, and are available at very low cost in print.

Cal State Fullerton Textbook Controversy Is Still Brewing

It’s been nearly a year since Cal State Fullerton math professor Alain Bourget made headlines by refusing to use a textbook that was authored by his boss in the university’s math department and cost students nearly $100 more than the book he wanted to use.

Bourget’s stand, and the reprimand he received for it, sparked a heated debate within the academic community on the ethics of professors authoring the books they assign their students. It also led to a new textbook policy adopted by the university’s academic senate in May.

But the early reviews from Bourget and others are that the new policy does little to address the issue.

“After all the noise the story made, it didn’t change CSUF or the math department,” Bourget said.

Added fellow math professor and Bourget supporter Tyler McMillan: “[The policy] is pretty useless in that it doesn’t have any protection for a minority opinion. It doesn’t address conflict of interest issues.”

Meanwhile, Bourget said his chances for a promotion this year might be jeopardized because of the letter of reprimand issued to him last year for not using the department-mandated book, which was written by math department chairman Stephen Goode and vice chairman Scott Annin. It remains the required text for the introductory linear algebra and differential equations class known as Math 250B.

Although not teaching the class this semester, Bourget reaffirmed his preference for a book written by MIT math legend Gilbert Strang.

Strang’s book costs about $90, while Goode and Annin’s is around $175, according to Amazon.com. The prices reflect the current editions of each book.

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