Open Source Textbooks in Higher Ed

An idea whose time has come?  Well, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic, but any initiative to reduce the costs of higher education must be welcome news for families and students struggling to gain more educational opportunity in the most economical way.  One organization in particular, Achieving the American Dream, is leading this effort to accomplish two things that are crucial to increase higher education completion rates for first-generation, low-income and students of color.  These “roadblocks” are basically the inordinately high textbook costs themselves, and the absence of a “new vehicle for using technology and course materials in dynamic and engaging ways.”

Although a number of community colleges have partnered with philanthropic organizations to reduce textbook costs, four-year institutions have been the primary beneficiaries of open-source innovations.  Research suggests that the use of free open-access materials can significantly reduce costs and contribute to better grades, higher course completion and faster degree completion.

So now I know why I had all the difficulty in getting good grades in college.  If only I had access to open-source materials back then, I would have gotten better grades, completed all my courses, graduated sooner, and saved some money.  From a 21st Century parents’ perspective those must all be good things!

Ray Myers