Why Professors are creating and using free and open textbooks

USHistoryUNGCollege textbook prices are increasing faster than tuition and inflation. The College Board estimates that students need $1200 per year for textbooks. Based on that number, students in the University System of Georgia (USG) could spend $360,000,000 this year on textbooks. With the high price of textbooks, students often need to wait until their student loan check arrives before buying the textbook, and some students forgo the textbook altogether due to costs.

Some professors have said enough of this already. Today’s technology allows us to create and distribute effective, quality content at practically no cost. So, let’s offer textbooks for free. Let’s create flexible content that gives students multiple formats to choose from. We may be able to offer students the option to print (or purchase a print copy for less than their own cost of printing) or access the content on their tablet, phone, or computer. Maybe students will even save the content forever so that their learning doesn’t stop when the course is over. We could even assign a license that provides the right to adapt and redistribute the work so that both students and teachers have the flexibility they need to teach and learn.

Content that allows for such flexible uses are known as Open Educational Resources (OER). A growing body of empirical research has shown improvements in retention, completion, GPAs and other factors with the use of OERs. Learn more about finding and using open resources with this Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG) tutorial. For additional assistance, contact Denise Dimsdale (mdimsdale@gsu.edu), ALG Library Coordinator or George Pullman(gpullman@gsu.edu), ALG Campus Champion.

Check out these OER textbooks in use in some USG courses:

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About Denise Dimsdale

Denise Dimsdale is an Assistant Professor and the Education Librarian at Georgia State University. Her research interests include the evolving role of open and affordable course content in higher education. She holds an MMU from Georgia State University and an MLIS from Valdosta State University.
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4 Responses to Why Professors are creating and using free and open textbooks

  1. Brendan Spaar says:

    Buying textbooks was a real strain on my wallet & storage space when I was in college. It seemed to make no sense if you could use technology to have the books with you at all times, why would you buy a book to use for 1 class & then have to figure out what to do with it. I hope that GSU will be able to allow students to save money & space soon with virtual textbooks.

  2. Tiffany Jacobs says:

    Very usefull advices, thanks you very much for sharing this.

  3. Patricia Menchan says:

    With today’s technology, having to spend so much money on textbooks is a waste. Kudos to these professors. Let’s hope this spreads nationwide.

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