Textbook Costs Got You Down? You’re Not Alone. Help Is on the Way.

anatomy and science textbooks on a desk

New desk in use” by brewbooks is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

NC LIVE recently announced that it is wading into the Open Educational Resources waters with a new initiative, Open Education North Carolina. NC LIVE’s initiative “aims to reduce the cost of higher education for North Carolina students by providing free, open e-textbooks for 30 of the most frequently-taught courses across North Carolina‚Äôs colleges and universities.”

College students are very familiar with the issues of textbook affordability. Even though a National Association of College Stores survey shows that student expenditures on textbooks have been on the decline, this is not entirely good news. Textbooks continue to be a sizeable burden on students’ budgets. Many students choose to rent textbooks to save money, which doesn’t always pay off and comes with trade-offs. Sometimes several students will share a single copy of a textbook; other times students will not buy a textbook at all. All of these approaches put students at a disadvantage. Whether they cannot make notes in the margins of a rented textbook, or have to wait for someone else to finish with a textbook, not owning a textbook makes it harder to succeed in class.

The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement seeks to help students by replacing commercially published textbooks with online resources that are free to use. OER also provide flexibility for instructors, who are free to modify textbook contents to suit their classes’ needs. The University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library and the California State University system’s MERLOT project have ready-made course materials for a variety of subjects. Organizations like OER Commons provide tools to help instructors create their own materials.

NC LIVE will facilitate the adoption of textbooks for 30 courses in North Carolina as well as provide training, funding and other support for faculty to use OER textbooks in their classes. Visit the Open Education North Carolina site for more information, including the option to sign up to receive updates as an instructor, librarian or other interested party.

About Stephen Brooks

Stephen is a reference librarian at Durham Tech. He has blogged previously at acqweb.org and for American Libraries magazine online. He enjoys reading 20th and 21st century literature, biographies and books about sports.