Charleston 2014 – From Course to Reserves…to Course Reversed?

Speaker: Nicole Allen, SPARC

Textbook prices have risen over 80% over the last decade. Put this in the larger context of the rising cost of education, and these are often out of pocket expenses not covered by grants and loans. Rental textbooks are one way to save money, but the message we are sending to students is that the information in them is no longer relevant when the course ends.

This market is skewed because the decision-makers (professors) are not the ones paying the cost (students). At least 2 out of 3 students have not bought the textbook at least once because of the cost. Students can’t learn from course materials they can’t afford.

SPARC advocates for open educational resources. These are either public domain or have the rights to be used, remixed, and shared. Rice University’s Open Stacks project provides free digital textbooks with hardcover print copies for around $50. Washington State funded a program for faculty to develop and curate course content for the most common high school courses across the state. MIT’s Open Courseware allows faculty to share their teaching materials.

Tidewater Community College’s two-year business degree uses OER in every course. Imagine doing this in the gen ed program of a four-year school.

Developmental math courses have higher passing rates using OER because the students have better access to the materials.
Speaker: Charles Lyons, University at Buffalo

Can libraries do more than put textbooks on reserve? The library is not even on the student’s radar at Buffalo when it comes to textbook sources.

Faculty are not unaware of the costs, for the most part, and they want to do something about it. The reality is that changing resources is difficult. Librarians can help faculty identify and evaluate OER.

Textbook authors are not only in it for the money, but incentives are important. They won’t get the same kind of recognition as they would by writing scholarly articles and monographs, so the money off-sets some of that.

Bookstores are starting to get the message about affordability. Some places the bookstore provides the library with a list of textbooks and they identify books already available, and the bookstore puts up a sign next to the book indicating that the library has a copy.

Students prefer the cheaper edition, in general, regardless of format, but if prices are the same, students will opt for print more than electronic.
Speaker: Bob Nardini, Ingram

Sales pitch for their e-textbook and print textbook services.

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