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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Textbook Costs on Schools' Radars This Fall

A number of colleges and universities have kicked off the new academic year with announcements of initiatives intended to save students on their course materials expenses. Here are a few:

The board of governors for Florida’s state university system approved a $656,000 program to develop a catalog of lower-cost digital course materials. The catalog will list open educational resources (OER) available free online, along with digital versions of traditional textbooks available at a reduced price negotiated with the publishers. The catalog will be ready in time for the fall 2018 term.

Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS, launched several projects through its Open Textbook Grant Program this fall. The program, administered by the campus library with funding from the FHSU Foundation, provided grants to several faculty to create or adapt open books or supplemental materials for their courses.

The Colorado Legislature appointed a 14-member Open Educational Resources Council to recommend how public institutions could boost the use of OER. The council has also been charged with developing a repository of digital OER.

Madison Area Technical College, Eau Claire, WI, approved a new policy to standardize the adoption of textbooks for classes, with a view toward cutting costs for students. Academic programs and departments are expected to adopt books for at least three academic years, where feasible, and to submit book selections on time in order to increase the availability of rentals and used books at the campus bookstore.

The University of Missouri and Northwest Missouri State University have agreed to explore ways they could share open educational resources that their respective faculties have developed or discovered online.

The impact of programs like these, as well as other ideas for helping to lower the cost of course materials, will be discussed at the Textbook Affordability Conference Nov. 10-12 at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.

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