While textbooks are not the only instructional materials that add costs to students, estimates range that textbooks can add 15-25% to term fees, so finding way to alleviate this cost can make a big impact on students' lives.
The CSU Chancellor's Office Affordable Learning Solutions campaign is "designed to enable faculty to choose and provide quality educational content that is more affordable for their students. CSU students typically pay over $800 per year for their books. By reducing their expenses, we believe we can provide better access to a quality CSU learning experience. We are launching this campaign in 2010 and will be continuously improving the services to CSU faculty and students each semester." (from http://als.csuprojects.org/)
In addition, the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act (PDF) encourages "all of the involved parties, including faculty, students, administrators, institutions of higher education, bookstores, distributors, and publishers, to work together to identify ways to decrease the cost of college textbooks and supplemental materials for students while supporting the academic freedom of faculty members to select high quality course materials for students" (H. R. 4137, Section 133(a)). Instructors who leverage the resources available from the ALS campaign will help their students achieve a balanced quality and affordable education.
The Center of Effective Teaching and Learning offers the following links and tips to Affordable Learning Solutions (ALS) resources.
- CSU Affordable Learning Solutions - This site has great resources, including an ISBN look-up tool to learn if there are free online course materials related to your textbook.
- Free course materials: MERLOT
- Introductory notes on the Affordable Learning Solution campaign prepared for the CSU Committee on Educational Policy (PDF - see agenda item #5 within).
- Textbook Affordability: Emerging Solutions in Ohio "Over the past few years, we've seen a growing interest in electronic educational resources and a move toward digital textbooks as a way to help a financially distressed higher education. During this webinar, we'll discuss why textbook costs have skyrocketed; how textbook costs impact students, faculty, and institutions; and current initiatives by the University System of Ohio to address textbook affordability and learning outcomes. We'll also discuss what defines open educational resources and open textbooks and how they can reduce costs by up to 80 percent while increasing quality and accessibility." (Archive available to ELI members only.)
- Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge" - This volume of essays, "argues that we must develop not only the technical capability but also the intellectual capacity for transforming tacit pedagogical knowledge into commonly usable and visible knowledge by providing incentives for faculty to use (and contribute to) open education goods, and by looking beyond institutional boundaries to connect a variety of settings and open source entrepreneurs." (A free e-book, including live links to resources and reference materials, is available thanks to the generous support of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.)
- MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative
- Rice University's Connexions project.
- Video: Open Textbook Panel from OpenEd 2009 at the University of British Columbia. Panelists share their personal and professional experiences dealing with new textbook publishing models that embrace some facet of "open." The conversation focuses on understanding the diversity of existing efforts, predicting promising and/or innovative textbook publishing models in the future, and examining evidence regarding effective practice, sustainability, and impact. Panelists include: Murugan Pal, CK12 Foundation; Eric Frank, Flat World Knowledge; Cable Green, WA State Board for Community and Technical Colleges; Barbara Illowsky, De Anza College; Steve Acker, Ohio State University. (This description was freely adopted from the program notes.)
- Video: "Dispelling Myths about Open Textbooks." Also from the OpenEd 2009 conference, this session attempts to debunk myths about open textbooks. "Based on experience and research of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources and the Community College Open Textbook Project, this session offers counterexamples and paths to improvement."
- Places to Get Free or Cheap Textbooks: Site offers links and tips for lowering costs of textbooks.
Please contact the CETL staff for more information on incorporating free resources into your teaching.
Work sponsored by the CSU CO