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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.
TALLAHASSEE — Florida universities are taking the first steps toward expanding the use of electronic textbooks and other material, hoping to bring significant savings to students who spend hundreds of dollars each semester on traditional textbooks.
The Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the university system, approved a 2018-19 budget request this week that includes a $656,000 program to encourage the greater use of so-called “eTexts” and other open educational resources in lieu of the standard textbooks.
It may take some time to replicate the experience of the University of Indiana, a leader in the use of eTexts, with IU reporting last spring that its students saved an estimated $3.5 million in the 2016-17 academic year by using eTexts in place of textbooks.
But Joseph Glover, provost at the University of Florida, who is part of a group coordinating innovation and online programs among the universities, said the expanded use of eTexts and other open-source material “is a great opportunity for really substantial savings for our students.”