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Monday, September 15, 2014

MOST Initiative Off to a Good Start

The University System of Maryland Open-Source Textbook (MOST) initiative was successful enough during the spring that it’s being expanded this fall. Eleven instructors from seven Maryland universities participated in the voluntary program, assigning open-source online course materials for at least one course during the spring 2014 semester.

Data collected after the spring pilot was complete indicated that most students and faculty were pleased with the experience that saved $130,000 in textbook costs, according to a report for the local CBS affiliate in Baltimore. The total amount of savings was based on the prices of new textbooks that would have been assigned for the courses.

Lumen Learning LLC, a provider of open-source course materials, helped finance the MOST pilot through a grant from Next Generation Learning Challenges. Lumen helped faculty find and collect online course material ranging from complete course packages to individual articles, graphics, and video.

While the pilot showed initial promise, there were complaints. Professors had to spend additional hours in preparation and students had issues with the limitations of the open course materials. However, university officials said they believe the issues can be addressed and that more participation and feedback will allow them to identify the course materials that work the best.

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