Tag Archives: free textbooks

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.

Free Textbooks, Easier Said Than Done

Todays guest post is by Alisha Azevedo

Providing college kids with free textbooks is no straightforward task.  That appears to be the major lesson from 1 or 2 attempts to produce ebooks that are low cost or free to help cut back scholars ‘ costs.  Money  pressures, slow adoption by professors, and quality concerns stand in the way as these projects hope to rival conventional publishing.  Take Flat World  Information   Incorporated , a pretender publisher that had been a key advocate of a supposed freemium model of giving away electronic copies of textbooks and asking scholars to pay for extras like flash cards or released copies.  The company declared a unexpected move away from that model in  Nov , saying that its free-content option will not be available beginning in  Jan .

The cause of the change :  Scholars  were not purchasing as many published copies as anticipated because people who wanted one got a second hand copy instead of buy another one from Flat World, asserted Jeff Shelstad, one of the firm’s founders.

Flat World will still offer textbooks at lower costs than standard publishers do, he added, but nothing will be free. The firm’s basic online books cost about $20 each.  Flat World  Information  is also chasing a sponsored-licensing model with some schools, where an external company or foundation would enter into a contract with Flat World  Information  or the school to aid in paying for the price of content.  The electronic book company will be well placed to judge the impact of its “free to fair” pricing transition by next year, Mr.

Shelstad related.  “We will determine whether the expansion in faculty adoption continues,” he revealed.  “There are a large amount of moving pieces to our business.” Some see Flat World Knowledge’s move away from the freemium model as a caution for other open-access textbook projects.  But Nicole Allen, an affordable-textbooks counsel for the Coed Public Interest Research Groups, disagrees that business still seems promising for free or inexpensive textbooks.  Flat World’s freemium model “lasted 5 years with over 5 hundred top quality textbooks they proved it may work,” she claimed.  Finding paths to support the producing of free textbooks isn’t the only unresolved issue for open-textbook fans.  Another challenge is getting buy-in from instructors, who must be swayed to take on the textbooks.  And when books are created by volunteers, keeping quality high can be more troublesome than in the standard model, where writers are paid by publishers.  Manufacturing  free textbooks may appear like a smart idea, but it is turning out to be simpler to say than to do.  “It’s like the school library,” expounded Tim Tirrell, director of partnerships and strategic planning for Merlot, a free online resource for varsity learning materials supported customarily by the California State  School  system.  “Everybody accepts that it should be there it should be free to access and free to everybody.

But somewhere in back, you want a supportable financial model and partners. “.

Free and Open Source College Textbooks

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of websites and organizations set up to address the high cost of textbooks. They are using the open source content model to bring low-cost or free textbooks to the party.

The most recent announcement comes from OpenStax College which announced  that they will be releasing free of charge a series of five books. The group plans to offer more than 20 titles.

OpenStax College is a nonprofit organization committed to improving student access to quality learning materials. Their free textbooks are developed and peer-reviewed by educators (including two Nobel laureates) to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of your course. Through partnerships with companies and foundations committed to reducing costs for students, OpenStax College is working to improve access to higher education for all. OpenStax College is an initiative of Rice University and is made possible through the generous support of several philanthropic foundations.

The first five books are College Physics, Intro to Sociology, Biology, Concepts of Biology, and Anatomy and Physiology. Once published, they will be free to download and view via the Web, PDF or EPUB. Given the nature of open-source content, faculty is a big part of the development process as they are encouraged to post corrections, suggest examples, or volunteer as editors.

It’s innovation in education. And the time is right to offer free textbooks that meet scope and sequence requirements for most courses. With a popularity of the iPad and other tablets students should welcome this free content. Being these are peer-reviewed texts written by professional content developers they should be welcomed by professors who are sensitive to the cost of textbooks for students. Professors can adopt a book today for a turnkey classroom solution or modify it to suit your teaching approach. As with a lot of the open-source content now being shared, it will take a bit of time for these college books to work their way into the adoption process, but as they do, it is clear that a peer-reviewed book will have a leg up in credibility and thus in getting more widespread adoption and classroom use. Free online and low-cost printed books are built for student budgets.