Three Ways To Save On Textbooks And Education
After spending six years in college, I know the cost of textbooks is outrageous. A few of my textbooks were only accessible by an access code, good for that semester. There were occasions I looked on Amazon and found I could download a textbook for free via Unlimited Kindle. I kept most of my textbooks for future resources for my writing career. The access code one, I could not keep due to access to the material ending after the semester ended. So, is there a solution to our textbook problems? Let’s find out.
Textbooks are expensive. They can cost anywhere from under $10 to over $200 for the average college student. Per CBS News, the cost of “… textbooks have risen four times faster than the rate of inflation over the past 10 years.” CBS News states the main problem is textbooks bundled with access codes. These access codes expire at the end of every semester. Many textbooks are only accessible via access codes. The access codes render the textbooks non-refundable or resalable at the end of the semester.
According to Student U.S. PIRG (the United States Public Interest Research Group), their research shows course materials are becoming restrictive, causing inflexible pricing. College students are forced to pay full price for their textbooks.
Solution: Open Educational Resource (OER)
Open Educational Resource (OER) may become the answer to the rising cost of textbooks. OER textbooks are under the public domain or released under the intellectual property license. This allows students, teachers, self-learners, and researchers free access to educational resources. It also lowers the cost of textbooks saving students an average of “$763 million per semester.”
- Open Textbook Library by the University of Minnesota. The library has textbooks from Accounting to Social Sciences.
- Open Stax is by Rice University. They have peer-reviewed, open-licensed, and 100 percent free textbooks. They have textbooks covering Math to Humanities and Advanced Placement textbooks.
- British Columbia has open textbooks ranging from Arts to Trades.
- New York’s answer to OER is from Open SUNY Textbooks. SUNY is a multi-campus imitative in publishing facility authored open textbooks. SUNY is led by six State University of New York libraries. Subjects cover from Academic Writing to Written Language.
- The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) has started an OER project, OER Commons. Subjects cover from Applied Science to Social Science.
- Looking for an international textbook? Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) has you covered. DOAB has an average of 12,160 academic peer-reviewed books.
- College Open Textbooks has open to affordable textbooks. Their textbooks range from Accounting to Statistics and Probability.
- Project Gutenberg has over 57,000 free eBooks to choose from. Gutenberg is a great place to find old books in which the copyrights have expired.
- Internet Archive is a place where you can find many books, movies, software, music and more. Internet Archive mission is to provide universal access to all knowledge. They have over 11 million books and texts free for researchers, historians, scholars and the public.
Free Education: Open CourseWare (OPW)
Open CourseWare (OCW) is made famous by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT is publishing their course material online, making it available to everyone. The college has over 2400 courses for people to choose from.
- The Open Education Consortium is a global network for open education. I went to their search engine and typed in “Creative Writing,” and three pages popped up for writing courses.
- Not to be outdone by MIT, Yale also has open courses. Yale offers free access to a selection of their introductory courses. Courses range from African American Studies to Spanish and Portuguese.
- The Regents of the University of Michigan has their open courseware program. Their courses range from Architecture to Student Organizations.
- The John Hopkins University’s OCW ranges from Adolescent Health and Development to Risks for STI/HIV–Opportunities for Prevention.
- Tufts University OCW is part of the Open Education Consortium. Courses range from Agriculture to Zoological Medicine.
- Utah State University OCW program ranges from Cultural Anthropology to Wildland Fire Management and Planning. The university is also part of the Open Education Consortium.
- Stanford University has an OCW program and teams up with Carnegie Mellon University on OCW courses, also known as Open Learning Initiative (OLI). Courses range from American English Speech to STEM Readiness.
Free to Low Cost:
- Harvard Medical School’s OCW Initiative has courses from Primary Care Clerkship to Virtual Patient. Harvard’s Extension School has free to low cost courses.
- Carnegie Mellon University is like that of the Harvard’s Extension School courses. The courses are free to low cost.
- Future Learn has free online courses and owned by The Open University. Based in London, Future Learn offers many courses from Business and Management to Tech and Coding. They also offer degrees and certificates (paid courses).
- EdX has courses from free to paying for a verified certificate. Subjects cover Architecture to Social Sciences
- Open Culture is another site that lists free, or low cost, courses, textbooks, and audiobooks.
So many places where students from all grades, along with researchers, teachers, self-learners and the public can learn and expand their mind at little to no cost. It is a great way to get your feet wet in a field you are interested in before paying tuition at a college and finding out you don’t like it. It can also save you money on books if your college is involved in OER.
How to get your college involved in OER?
Students need to meet with faculty to help build an infrastructure to support open textbooks. Students need to work with their college and pass a resolution calling for an OER grant program. Both students and their college need to work together to petition the government for a call to action in bringing OER to their college.
How will you use OER and/or OCW?