Open Textbooks: Collections, Impact, Support, Grants

Logo for GALILEO open learning materialsRecently, the GSU Library celebrated Open Education Week with an Open Educational Resources (OER) information table located just inside the main entrance of Atlanta Library North. Approximately 68 students and a few professors stopped by the table to explore OER materials and find out more about how to make textbooks more affordable.

The OER information table included print versions of textbooks from OpenStax, BCCampus Open Ed, Open Textbook Library, Open SUNY, and College Open Textbooks, as well as, the opportunity to view these books online. All five of these textbook collections include high quality, peer reviewed textbooks that can be downloaded for free. Professional color publications in print can be purchased at a very low cost, or students can print them on their own if they’d like.

Most students said they had never heard of these textbook collections. Some students who said that they had heard of the OpenStax textbook collection knew about it from an AP class in high school or the knowledge that Bill Gates puts some funding toward the OpenStax organization. However, none of the students said that they had used OpenStax at GSU.  Many of the students who stopped by said that they wanted more information about open textbooks because the cost of textbooks is burdensome.

Here’s what some students had to say:

“I have not bought a textbook since I’ve been in college because I never have the money. –No refund checks, –single parent home, –no savings.”

“We should be able to use older editions because of the significant … cost. New editions barely add anything. The cost to students aren’t worth the benefit.”

“…Requiring textbooks often that are not needed…I lose money reselling.”

“Two books, first is the biology 1rst edition and the other is biology 2nd edition. I already have the first edition and am required to buy the other only because my professor follows the study questions on the 2nd edition.”

“My textbooks totaled $800 my freshman year. (1rst semester)”

A few professors stopped by and explored the available open textbooks that could be adopted to ease the financial burden of textbook costs for students. One professor stated that she is working on creating an open textbook but is struggling to find the time to complete it because of so many other obligations.

When students use open textbooks, they have access to the content from the first day of class. A growing body of research is discovering the impact of open textbooks on retention, course throughput rates, graduation rates, drop out rates, and more. A collection of research on these topics and other open education topics can be found here. For a collection of open textbooks in use in the University System of Georgia (USG), see GALILEO Open Learning Materials. Or, view the top 100 highest enrolled courses for students in the USG with suggestions for textbook adoption here.

For professors who are interested in adopting an existing open textbook or creating an open textbook, grants are available, and the library is offering support. Grants are available for an individual course, multiple courses, and departmental level textbook adoption. The deadline for the latest round of grants offered through Affordable Learning Georgia is April 30. Find out more about these grants here. Or contact Mary Ann Cullen (Perimeter campuses) or Denise Dimsdale (Atlanta campus) for more information.

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