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It is estimated by the College Board that undergraduate students can expect to pay upwards of $1,298 a year for textbooks and supplies. The cost of textbooks impacts student success and retention. Students who participated in the 2016 Florida Student Textbook Survey answered that, at least once over the course of their academic careers, the cost of required textbooks caused them to:
||Not purchase the required textbook
||Take fewer courses
||Not register for a specific course
||Earn a poor grade because I could not afford to buy the textbook
||Drop a course
||Fail a course because I could not afford to buy the textbook
- Save students money. Open textbooks offer both digital editions and printed copies. Students can download digital editions for free or order print copies at a low price.
- Allow for flexible content. Students can access the content in their preferred format, on their preferred platform. Professors can customize the material to match their course needs. Video, audio, and other interactive content can be embedded into digital editions.
- Help students succeed. A recent, multi-institutional study showed that students using open textbooks in their courses performed as well or better than students using traditional textbooks and that they enrolled in more courses the following semester. Students using online open textbooks also gain ICT (information communication technology) skills.
What makes a textbook open?
Open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. - Open Textbook Library
Like traditional textbooks, open textbooks are written by experts in the field and undergo a process of peer review and professional editing and development. Unlike the traditional publishing model, publishers and authors of open textbooks are paid for their labor upfront by the funding organization or grant, instead of relying on sales to pay back their investments.
Open Textbooks: The Current State of Play
Sources of Open Textbooks
Open Textbook Library
The Open Textbook Library at the University of Minnesota offers a catalog of open, peer-reviewed textbooks that can be downloaded for free.
OpenStax from Rice University offers free, online educational materials and textbooks, some of which can be printed at an affordable price.
Open SUNY Textbooks
A pilot open textbook publishing initiative established by State University of New York that engages faculty as authors and peer-reviewers and libraries as publishing service and infrastructure.
BCcampus Open Ed
BCcampus has curated a collection of open textbooks that align with the top 40 highest enrolled first and second year post-secondary subject areas in British Columbia. Many books have been reviewed by faculty and include ancillary resources. Particular strengths include
In addition to other open educational content, Saylor Academy offers over 100 open textbooks under a variety of Creative Commons licenses.
American Institute of Mathematics
Open textbooks that have been approved by the American Institute of Mathematics.
InTech is the publisher of one of the largest open access collection of books in the fields of Science, Technology and Medicine.
MIT OpenCourseWare: Online Textbooks
An index of online textbooks in MIT OpenCourseWare, including open-licensed electronic versions of print books, self-published online books, or course notes which are so thorough that they serve as an alternative to a conventional textbook.
A free, collaboratively-built collection of manuals about free and open source software.